Hello Everyone and Welcome Back to The Boss Book Club!
Hope you have all been keeping well! I’ve been living under a rock apparently, as I’m sure I’m one of the last to read the suspenseful hit of 2015, the global bestseller and soon to be movie (starring Emily Blunt). This is the review for The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.
If you too have been living in a dark, isolated place over the past year, let’s see if this thriller interests you…
The Girl on the Train is divided by chapters that are told in first person view from a variety of characters. The central character is Rachel, an overweight alcoholic in her late 20s whose life has gone from perfect to disaster in the past five years. She had it all- a great job, a loving husband, health and happiness. We’re catching her at her lowest point, after she’s lost it all.
On her daily train trips (whilst sneaking booze from her handbag), she always takes note of a particular house she passes, which has what appears to be a loving couple within. Often the lady of the house, Megan, is sitting outside. Rachel imagines what life is like for the couple, creates a little backstory in her mind as to what their lives are like.
When Megan is reported missing, Rachel decides to investigate.
The back cover of the novel has a quote from The Times review which states: “My vote for unreliable narrator of the year.” I couldn’t have said it better myself. Rachel is unreliable for a lot of reasons- her constant consumption of alcohol has made her memory poor and untrustworthy, she’s desperately lonely, and she’s often overstepping personal boundaries because of this. She is somewhat, for want of a better term, mentally unstable. However, her situation could have happened to anyone- and she’s sympathetic and relatable because of this. Despite her faults, as a reader you feel compassion towards her, you want her to solve the case, and you want her to start rebuilding her life. You want all of this, but you can’t shake the idea that Rachel is also a suspect in this suspenseful tale.
This novel maintains its suspense as it unravels the story slowly, keeping you reading to unlock more clues as to the circumstances of Megan’s disappearance. The switch between chapters from different viewpoints keeps it lively and interesting. Particularly good are the chapters from Megan’s viewpoint, who is a well developed character with, of course,many secrets that need unveiling.
A weakness of this novel is that some of the character chapters are stronger than others. As just mentioned, the chapters from Megan are particularly good. Others, such as the chapters that focus on Anna, one of Megan’s neighbours, feel thin, and the character is less fleshed out and I felt, too superficial. Anna’s viewpoint often doesn’t reveal enough new information and was repetitive of other characters viewpoints. However, this is only a minor flaw in the context of the novel as a whole.
This book is absolutely perfect for reading whilst travelling, especially if it’s on a train! It will have you looking out the window, thinking over the mystery, and will have you pondering about the lives of strangers you pass. It is an easy read, and the chapters are short, great for filling in small gaps in your free time. I did pick whodunnit, but only a chapter or two before it was revealed.
It’s not one of the greatest novels of all time, but it’s a great suspenseful story that will keep you hooked until a satisfactory conclusion. I recommend suspense lovers give it a read if you haven’t already.
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Happy Reading 🙂