The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
A book club favourite this year;
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins was our Bookclub read for April, but I'm only just catching up with reviews and things like that now.
It's a thriller that starts with Rachel who travels by train every day past the row of houses where she used to live with her ex-husband Tom. She is solitary and sad and makes up a story about a young Golden Couple who live near to her old house. She wants what they have, but like so many people looking in to a relationship from outside she doesn't see the reality behind the smile. When her fantasy wife disappears and then is found dead, believed murdered, she gets involved, desperate to work out what happened. It's like she stalks the dead woman's life, visiting her therapist, her family and even the husband. Rachel has nothing else to do; she's an alcoholic and needs a purpose, because her job, that she travelled to by train every day, has gone and she is so lacking in self confidence.
As the plot develops the characters lives wind together in sometimes unexpected ways.
The book is told first person by Rachel in the present day and Megan who we hear from the past as well as Anna, the woman who has replaced Rachel in her house. Their viewpoints colour our perceptions and give us enough to make decisions about what is happening without letting the cats out of the bag.
It's a book that, like Gone Girl, relies on plot rather than empathy. The characters aren't pretty, not likeable, but the book works in getting you hooked so you have to read on to the end just to see what happens to them all. I can't say much more without letting secrets slip, so I will just have to say that the bookclub readers all (bar one) really enjoyed it and found themselves reading late into the night to find out what happened. Is it realistic? Perhaps not, but it's engrossing. And sometimes an engrossing book is better than a realistic one when it's a cold, dark night and you need to be engrossed.