Rachel is an unemployed, divorced alcoholic lodging with an old friend. She gets on the train every day and pretends to go to work. On her way, she always watches two houses: the one she shared with her ex Tom, and one in which a beautiful couple lives.
Her ex has married the woman, Anna, that he has cheated on Rachel with. They now have a baby and from the looks of it, their only problem is Rachel who harasses them with visits and calls, and doesn’t really remember what she did or said afterwards.
The beautiful couple seems to be happy and in-love, at least in Rachel’s head. They live the blissful, loyal and content life she couldn’t have with Tom, and she envies them.
But as it soon turns out, the perfection she imagined for the couple is just an illusion. After a horrific crime occurs, Rachel realizes she might be a key witness to…..well, something. If only she could remember….
The Girl on the Train is one of those gems that actually live to the hype. I heard about the book a while back, but things got in the way. Then I watched the trailer starring Emily Blunt, Luke Evans and Justin Theraux, and I couldn’t resist it.
The book has three narrators (Rachel, Anna, and the “wife” from the perfect couple: Megan) who are all questionable for different reasons. You don’t know who to trust, and it is often hard, if not impossible, to sympathize with any of them.
After all, you have a woman who seems hell-bent on destroying what little is left of her life and dignity, a proud ex mistress who loves putting the blame on the “deranged,” alcoholic ex-wife, and a young married woman who loves getting away from her own troubles by using her sexuality – despite (and sometimes because of) being married to a caring yet obsessive man. And then there is Rachel’s ex husband Tom who seems to feel enough guilt to still want to help Rachel, but he did put all the problems of their marriage on a susceptible alcoholic.
Of course not having any character to root for (I did often root for Rachel but she disappointed me a lot) could have been a problem in any genre other than a gripping mystery/thriller. Luckily, the flaws of these characters (and I’m understating majorly by just calling them flaws) make for great conflict and intrigue.
Who committed the murder? Why? Who can Rachel trust? Who can we trust?
And how the hell will things turn out after we do find out?
I recommend The Girl on the Train to any thriller lover, but especially writers who want to write (better) thrillers. After all, it pulls off a tricky three-narrator story with a lot of detail.
The Girl on the Train was written by Paula Hawkins, and is her debut novel.
The movie will be in theatres in October 7 (USA). Emily Watson plays Rachel, Haley Bennett Megan, Rebecca Ferguson (Mission Impossible 5: Rogue Nation) Anna, Justin Theroux Tom and Luke Evans Scott. Adapted by Erin Cressida Wilson and directed by Tate Taylor.
What latest thrillers have you enjoyed reading?