The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

I actually read this book when it came out last year, which is why my version is a hardcover, but I’m going to see the film this weekend so I wanted a refresh. I also realised I hadn’t actually posted a review (naughty). 
From the blurb:

EVERY DAY THE SAME

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.


UNTIL TODAY

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Now, when I read the book there wasn’t that much info posted about it, apart from that it was really good and a twisty thriller. I saw it in the bookshop on my commute to work everyday, and heard it described as “the next” Gone Girl. We know how I feel about book comparisons. 

I am going to give a brief introduction to the book, and there will be what I consider to be spoilers; a lot of info about the book has been discussed in the media with the film opening this weekend, so I am glad I’d already read it, because some of the stuff that’s been published has ruined some of the surprises for readers of the book in my opinion.  But I’ll get to that shortly. 

Rachel Watson is a woman in her early thirties who travels into central London on the 08:04 train the same time every Monday-Friday. Everyday the train stops at a signal, outside a row of houses. Sometimes the train stops for a few seconds, sometimes it’s minutes, but everyday Rachel gets a glimpse into the lives of the beautiful couple who live in one of the track houses. 

Rachel is extremely unhappy, and takes comfort in imagining that the couple (whom she names Jason & Jess) have the perfect lives. She doesn’t say much about her life outside of the train journeys for the first few chapters, but you get the impression that these glimpses of the couple from the train window are the best parts of Rachel’s days. 

Then one Friday Rachel sees something that shocks her, and overturns her fantasy of the perfect couple. A few days later she finds out that “Jess”, Megan Hipwell has gone missing, and her husband Scott hasn’t seen her since Friday night. 

Rachel goes to the police about what she saw, but no one takes her seriously; Rachel didn’t know the couple, she was just a girl on the train. 

The story is told from the perspectives of three women; Rachel, Anna a young mother and Megan, the woman who has gone missing. I really enjoyed this book, but in retrospect it’s not as great as I originally remembered.Dont get me wrong, it’s really good, but there are other books out there at the same level, so for this reason I gave it 4/5 stars on Goodreads. The twist about why actually happened to Megan was quite obvious to me from 2/3 the way through the book. I thought Black Eyed Susans, The Widow & What She Left were just as good. The Widow is being described as “this year’s The Girl on the Train”. Sigh.  

Now, I’m going to talk about the spoilers -of the book- that have been discussed with the upcoming film release. If you don’t want any spoilers about the book stop reading now. 

The big thing about this book, the unique selling point, is that the main character Rachel is an unreliable narrator.  Rachel is an alcoholic; she seems to be constantly drinking a reasonable (but not really )  amount, but then goes on these binges where she ends up blacking out. This was brought to the readers notice steadily throughout the book, rather than as a big reveal, but it is still an important part of the readers experience, the discovery that the narrator can’t necessarily be trusted. Also, is it wrong that I read the book whilst drinking a gin & tonic? 

Also, the fact that Rachel is divorced, used to live on Megan’s road, and that her ex and his new family live there still are pieces of information that are revealed to the reader throughout the book. I understand that the way a film is publicised is different to the way a book is, but it feels like they gave the audiences way too much information going in. 

I will be posting a review and comparison between the book and the film at the weekend. Let me know own your thoughts in the comments below – have you read the book? Will you be watching the film? What do you think about the casting choices? 

Cheerio!

Stephani Xxx 

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