As someone who loves a keeps-you-guessing edge-of-your-seat no-sleep-until-you’ve read-the-last-word thriller I’ve been dying to read The Girl On The Train, this month’s RMS book club book, ever since the This year’s Gone Girl reviews started coming in.
The girl, well woman, behind The Girl On The Train is Paula Hawkins, a London-based former journalist who wrote a series of romantic fiction books under the pseudonym Amy Silver before writing TGOTT. The movie rights were snapped up by Dreamworks before it was published, only adding to the buzz.
The book’s central character is Rachel, who catches the same commuter train into London every morning. Every morning the train stops at the same signal, overlooking a row of suburban back gardens. So far, so normal. Although Rachel isn’t as normal as she first appears, as we soon find out.
Rachel becomes fascinated with a couple who live in one of the houses she passes every day. She feels as if she knows them and has even made up names for them: Jess and Jason – perfect alliterative names for a couple whose life, at least from the outside, appears to be just as perfect.
One day Rachel sees something from the train that shocks her and, shortly afterwards ‘Jess’ disappears. Rachel becomes obsessed with solving the mystery and even thinks she might somehow have been involved.
Two other women, Megan and Anna, share narrating duties with Rachel, and the timeline flits back and forth, from May 2012 to September 2013. As the story progresses we realize that the women’s lives are intertwined and they become increasingly so. The pace builds as the book hurtles towards its final shocking chapter.
Like Reese Witherspoon who said on Instagram, alongside a picture of a copy of TGOTT “I don’t know who you are #PaulaHawkins but you kept me up all night reading! #TheGirlOnTheTrain #PageTurner #BookClub” I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep until I got to the very last page. I was so desperate to find out what had happened that I was practically skim reading by the end and had to go back and read some sections again. Reese is right, it really is a (very well written and plotted) #PageTurner and I was totally swept along by all the twists and turns. Despite Rachel being a deeply flawed character (and that’s being kind) I grew to like her even though she was a (very) unreliable narrator. Yes, another one, but for different reasons than Elizabeth Is Missing’s Maud.
Although TGOTT is a thriller and a very readable one at that, it has serious points to make about perception versus reality and how other people’s lives are probably not as perfect as they appear to be from the outside, something that’s definitely worth remembering in 2015, when the lives we show and/or see on social media are edited and filtered to the point where they often don’t resemble real life at all. Also about how our experiences shape us and whether we can move on from them and find another path.
The only thing I wasn’t happy with, and I’m going to try and say this without any spoilers for anyone who’s reading this but hasn’t read the book, is that the bit when the person who has done the terrible thing confesses all felt a bit odd. Like would they really have explained in such detail everything that led up to the terrible thing? I realise that as readers we needed to know what went down but I wondered if there might have been some other way of telling us. It just felt a bit clunky. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be recommending it to everyone I know. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the film and can’t wait to find out what you all thought.
Did you love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between? Did it leave you sleep deprived? Annoyed? Was it believable? As much as a OMG thriller can be believable of course. Did you like Rachel? What about Megan? And Anna? And how did you feel about the person who did the very terrible thing? Ever made up names, heck even whole lives, for people you don’t really know? (I have). And who on earth will play Rachel in the film version? What about the themes that the book touches upon? There is much to discuss. Not least what we should read for next month. Leave any suggestions below. Can’t wait to catch up with all book-related chat this evening!