The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Sometimes I read a book that is so good, it ruins reading for me for a bit. This happened to me after I read Station Eleven, a book that our leader, Jennifer, reviewed here in November. Everything I picked up for the next few months fell flat. I would enjoy a book for a while but then the end would disappoint me. Or I would start a book and find I didn’t much care what happened to the characters next. Or I would read a book with great language but a boring plot or vice versa. I actually started to get a bit worried. And then, I picked up The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. My reading crisis was over. I fell in love with a book all over again.
The story begins with Rachel who we watch as she passes her old neighborhood each morning and evening while sitting on the train. Each time she passes, she thinks of her prior life and her ex-husband Tom, who stills lives in their house but now with a new wife, Anna and a daughter, Evie. She also observes Megan and Scott, a couple living a few doors down from her old home. She comes to believe that she knows this couple, imagining a perfect life for them.
The more I got to know Rachel, the harder she was to like. She is an unemployed alcoholic who can’t seem to get over her old life. In order to fool her roommate into thinking she still has a job to help her pay the rent, she rides the train each morning in an attempt to resemble a commuter. It is during these months of pretend commuting that she becomes attached, in her mind, to Megan and Scott while also becoming consumed with hatred toward Tom and Anna.
The story is told through the perspectives of these three women, Rachel, Megan and Anna each of whom believes they know and understand the men in their lives. When tragedy strikes, it becomes quite clear that no one, the reader especially, knows whom to trust.
Many reviewers have compared The Girl on the Train to Gone Girl. I have to admit that I am in the minority of people who didn’t love Gone Girl. I found all the characters so unlikable that frankly, I didn’t care that Amy was gone. At first, this comparison made me hesitant to read The Girl on the Train. Its characters are also pretty unsavory. I can’t say I truly related to any of them. That said, I cared what happened to them. I’m not sure why my feelings were different for this unlikeable crew but they were. I very much needed to know what role each of them played in this ‘un-put-downable’ tale.
I’d love to hear if any of our readers have read either The Girl on the Train or Gone Girl. Did you love one and not the other? Or did you love both? Or not?
Have you read The Girl on the Train? We’d love to hear what you think — please share in the comments below. Thanks!