Nana’s Note: Nanas Whimsies is currently undergoing some site construction changes. As these changes are taking place, I have noticed that some “comments” are vanishing. I assume the Case of the Missing Comments will be solved once my construction is complete. In the meantime, rest assure that I am actually seeing the comments, though they sometimes disappear. More about my web site changes at a later date.
I was drawn to the premise of Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train even before it became apparent to me that it was going to be one of the Big Reads of 2015. Being a story teller at heart, it is not uncommon for me to observe someone in, say, the grocery checkout line, and create a story about him or her. The story becomes quite real to me, though I generally don’t see the person again and never find out whether or not my story is even remotely true.
The girl on the train is Rachel Watson, an unhappily divorced young woman who commutes daily on the same train to London. During her daily commute, the train passes a row of houses and Rachel observes two people living in one of the houses, an attractive couple she calls Jess and Jason. Rachel begins to invent a story about the two people she observes daily and their supposedly happy life.
Unfortunately, one day as she is passing by the house, she observes “Jess” kissing a strange man. The next day Rachel learns that “Jess” (whose real name, it turns out, is Megan) has gone missing. Thus, Rachel is drawn into the real-life story, as she feels compelled to make sure the police know about the stranger.
The Girl on the Train has a definite Gone Girl vibe to it. The story is narrated from three perspectives, giving the reader the opportunity to see what has happened from different viewpoints. We learn the depths of Rachel’s unhappiness, which lead her to severe alcoholism. (Or does her alcoholism lead her to unhappiness?) Her alcoholism becomes almost a character in the novel, often driving the story.
Megan and her husband (whose name isn’t Jason, but Scott) don’t have the wonderfully carefree life imagined by Rachel, and as the book progresses, we learn Megan’s disturbing story.
The final narrator is Anna, the wife of Rachel’s ex-husband, who seemingly wants nothing more than to have her husband Tom’s alcoholic ex-wife leave them alone with their baby and their life.
When Megan’s body is finally discovered, the story — as told from the different perspectives — unfolds. Creepy as it all was, I couldn’t put the book down.
Hawkins’ debut novel has the readability of that coming from a master storyteller, and I dare you to figure out the murderer very much in advance.
Comparisons to Gone Girl are inevitable, but the ending was more satisfying. I look forward to future books.
Buy The Girl on the Train from Amazon here.
Buy The Girl on the Train from Barnes and Noble here.
Buy The Girl on the Train from Tattered Cover here.
Buy The Girl on the Train from Changing Hands here.