While visiting Toronto last Autumn, I had the opportunity to meet up with one of my friends from the publishing programme at Ryerson while she was completing an internship at Harper Collins. She was kind enough to give grab me a couple of books—one of which was The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. To be honest I’ve never been very interested in thrillers (and I think I was terrified to read Gone Girl) but this book definitely converted me. My friend also has a proven knack to pick just the right book to get me out of my comfort zone. The plot and prose were absolutely solid cover to cover (in fact, I read it cover to cover on my flight from Toronto to Amsterdam). The beginning was a tad slow but the prose was good enough to keep me going.
Our protagonist Rachel is an alcoholic trying to keep up the ruse that she hasn’t lost her job by continuing to commute to London. She’s recently been divorced by her husband who left her for another Woman and has been prone to drunk-dialing him in the middle of the night. Rachel’s journey takes her along the backs of houses, one of which she used to share with ex-husband Tom who has swapped her out for his new wife Anna. As a distraction from looking at her old house number 23, Rachel focuses on house number 15 shared by husband and wife Scott and Megan. She watches the beautiful couple and fantasizes about their relationship and lives until one day she sees something startling in their back garden and then Megan goes missing. Rachel goes to the police but gets entangled herself after having been seen on their street stumbling and drunk around the time Megan goes missing. Rachel sets out to try and help Scott as she’s convinced after observing him from afar that he’s innocent.
I really enjoyed the narrative switches between the perspectives of the different Women in the novel revealing them (especially Megan) to not be quite as glamourous as we would have imagined. The characterization was excellent since they were such horrible, malicious and dysfunctional people in such a compelling and well-crafted way.
The pacing of this book was quite good and the narrative switches really built a sense of suspense and tension. For me, it’s telling that I read it on one flight as I usually can’t manage to read for more than two hours straight (I’d forgotten my reading glasses). Apparently, it’s been optioned by Dreamworks so I’ll certainly be looking forward to that.
I very much enjoyed the wine-goggled sleuthing, despite it getting a little hammy at some points and I felt like I was being hit over the head with Rachel’s booze-induced flashbacks.