From the moment I read the blurb a good many months ago, I knew this was a novel I wanted to read but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago when the wonderful people at SocialBookCo. sent me a copy that I finally got the chance.
The Girl on the Train* is a psychological thriller written by British author Paula Hawkins. It is written in first person narrative from 3 girls perspectives – Rachel, Anna and Megan – where each part links and explains the story of Megan’s murder as each of the girl’s lives is intertwined.
The novel begins with Rachel travelling to work in London, past the town of Witney. Within the first paragraph, we learn that Rachel has a fast and overactive imagination which is clear to be a key aspect of her personality throughout the novel.
I catch sight of these discarded scraps, a dirty T-shirt or a lonesome shoe, and all I can think of is the other shoe, and the feet that fitted into them.
While Rachel is travelling past Witney she is reminded of her old house, her ex-husband (Tom) who still lives in Witney with his new wife Anna and the couple who she watches each day. Tying into her overactive imagination we learn that Rachel has conjured up a life for the couple – nicknamed Jess and Jason – and has watched their ‘story’ unfurl over the time she spends travelling along the railway track.
From the change in perspective within the novel we, the readers, quickly learn that Jess is actually Megan and the happy picture painted by Rachel is not how her life is in reality.
The plot and pace pick up when Megan goes missing and Rachel immerses herself in the investigation. From watching Jess’ life through the train windows Rachel had discovered that she was having an affair with another man and Rachel quickly assumes that he is the culprit. She becomes so invested in the police investigation that she both meets with Jason (really named Scott) and visits the alleged culprit in order to find out more information. Once it is revealed that this person is not responsible for Megan disappearance – and now known to be death – Rachel continues on the quest to find the truth.
During this time Hawkins cleverly creates many twists and turns – even at a time presenting Rachel as a suspect by showing how her alcoholism can affect her memory and place her in difficult situations which, of course, makes for an absolutely gripping read!
Rachel comes to discover that while Megan had been babysitting for Anna and Tom she had an affair with Tom. It is revealed to the readers, using the change in time between the change in the narration of the women, that Megan had been suffering from depression as a result of the accidental death of her child previously and, as such, was using her relationships with many men as a coping mechanism.
The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.
On the night of Megan’s disappearance, Scott had discovered that Megan was having an affair and had reacted in a violent manner resulting in Megan running away. She had met Tom and had revealed that she was pregnant with his child which ultimately resulted in Tom murdering her.
Rachel discovers this and takes it upon herself to confront Tom herself to which he responds by attempting to kill her. She stabs him and when Anna arrives she assists to kill him as she is trying to protect her family and the women are aware of the truth. Anna and Rachel form a bond and cover for each other to the police and the truth about Tom and Megan’s death are finally revealed to all.
We are tied together, forever bound by the stories we told.
I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and found that this was one of the first thriller novels that I had felt properly gripping. I read the novel while on my travels to my boyfriends and, I have to admit, I eagerly awaited my final journey home so I could finally finish the novel and discover the truth. The use of Rachel’s alcoholism and the part it played within her life – the presentation of the realities of it and how it can be both a help and a hindrance – particularly resonated with me and I found it very eye-opening. I often do not enjoy when novels are written from multiple perspectives but yet again, this particular novel was an exception. The use of the change in time and first-person narrative, the clever ways you (the reader) could subtly piece bits together made it an immensely pleasurable component within the novel. I will certainly be looking into more of Hawkins novel and to conclude here is my favourite quote:
Life is not a paragraph and death is no parenthesis.
Please do suggest some of your favourite novels in the comments below and should you wish to purchase a totally affordable copy of this amazing novel (great for students!) then follow this link:
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