Today, during National Readathon Day, everyone was encouraged to read from 12-4 in the afternoon. While I probably only read for a half hour during that stint (lunch, family, kids…) I did manage to finish The Girl on the Train, so it was time well spent! When it was over, I put it down, passed it to my mom and said “It’s going to be the next Gone Girl. They’re going to make a movie out of it – the whole deal.” Like Gone Girl, I was completely sucked in, so only pick it up when you have some time to dedicate to it!
On the surface, this book is a whodunit – a woman goes missing and is found dead and (of course) the husband is suspected. But at its heart it’s a deeply-nuanced look at people’s inner lives, a psychological case study about what it means to be recovering and lonely and sure that you can trust anyone more than you can trust yourself (when, in fact, you can’t). Hawkins is a master of the inner monologue and of characterization in general. We get to know the women of this book completely because, for much of it, we are inside their minds.
Though this book is told in three voices – Megan, in the days leading up to her disappearance; Rachel, who gets involved in the police investigation and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife – this is really Rachel’s story. Her narration is unique because she is a drunkard, perpetually struggling to piece together memory from illusion. For Rachel, reality is hazy and recollection blurred by drink. We’re meant to think her an unreliable narrator because of it, but in actuality it’s those around her who are untrustworthy. She lets others fill in the blanks for her because she can’t do it herself and it’s this – faith in people – that is her downfall. Ultimately, though Megan’s the one who dies, it’s Rachel who’s the most sympathetic character.
The Girl on the Train is sinister and taut and frightening. It’s also humane because it originates with something we all do: people-watching. Imagining the unseen from the seen, to quote Henry James. Rachel can’t help but peer at a single picturesque couple from the seat of a train – an act of voyeurism that unravels the many lies swirling around in her own life.
This book is ingeniously plotted and it will keep you hypnotically turning the pages to get to the end. Read it on your next vacation or when you just simply want to get taken in by the act of reading.
No publisher to thank this time. This book is my own copy and is currently in circulation!