This book has been hyped much in the pre-publicity and I can understand why. After a slowish start, I finished it at a sprint and rarely put it down. The girl on the train in The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, is a voyeur, she watches people in their houses. On her morning commute, her train regularly stops at a red light and she looks at a house and ponders the perfect life of the people who live there. She is fantasising, you think, and then you realise she isn’t. She knows the people. Or does she?
You never know where you are with Rachel’s account of what happens, she is the ultimate unreliable narrator. The problem is she is a drunk, a falling-over, hungover woman who swigs alcohol on the train and suffers memory blackouts. At no point do you know whether to believe her version of the truth. She says, “I wonder where it started, my decline; I wonder at what point I could have halted it.”
In contrast to Rachel, there is Megan, the woman who lives in the house by the railway. She seems a more reliable source of information, or is she? She is unhappy too and we are uncertain why. Dissatisfied – with her marriage, her life? – she goes to see a counsellor. She hints about ‘betrayals’.
For the first half of the book I got the two women slightly confused, not their current life but their back stories. Then a third female voice is added, Anna. Anna was clear to me from the beginning, and her viewpoint adds clarity to the wider picture.
This is a thriller about men, as seen by women; about relationships, as seen by women; about truth and lies, and our ability to recognise one from the other.
A great debut.
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‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins [UK: Doubleday] Buy now
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