When Gillian Flynn came out with her novel Gone Girl, the entire world caught on to it and made it one of the most popular books. So popular was Gone Girl, a movie adaptation was also made. Many authors tried replicating the success of Gone Girl’s novel format, but none could match up to. Till The Girl on the Train came out.
Written by Paula Hawkins, who herself is a journalist; the novel has a series of interesting premise, all linked to a high sense of dread, mystery and suspense.
We meet Rachel, an alcoholic woman with a slight bit of memory loss, who commutes on a train to London every day. She passes by this house where she fantasises about the perfect couple. She observes them, makes up stories about them in her head, and does this every day. The one morning, after a night of heavy drinking and finding herself in blood, she finds out the woman, who she sees every day at the house on her commute, has gone missing and is dead.
This is where we enter the mind of the second woman, Megan, the woman in house who has been unknowingly observed by the girl on the train. We follow her story alongside Rachel’s. In addition to this, we also follow the story of a third woman, Anna, who is Rachel’s ex-husband’s mistress, who is scared of Rachel. Among the male counterparts, we have Tom, who is Rachel’s ex husband; Dr. Abidic, a Muslim therapist who Rachel frequents and Scott, Megan’s husband.
With a plethora of characters, the reader is led deeper into the mystery of the death of Megan.
Is Rachel guilty? Do her frequent black out causes her to behave irrationally? Is Anna right to be scared of Rachel or is she making it up? How honest is Dr. Abidic, the therapist? There is a huge dollop of mystery and suspense, and personally speaking, there were moments in the book when I would be super frustrated at Rachel. During some parts. I wanted to scream at her to sort herself out and solve the mystery. In one scene, when she is being interrogated by the police, she becomes rather annoying because she couldn’t remember what happened on that particular night. You are never sure whether she is lying or has genuinely forgot.
Never have I read the last few chapters of a book as quickly as I did for this book because I wanted to literally kill the suspense.
Hawkins does a great job of fleshing out the characters and the psychological aspects of their minds; their behaviour, attitudes and actions can be analysed and that makes for a very insightful experience. There are enough red herrings to throw the readers off track and create a huge sense of doubt in the minds.The character of Rachel is a very unique one for everyone I’ve talked to who’ve read this book, the common element was how much they disliked Rachel, which goes to show the excellent ability of Hawkins to etch out such a character.
I won’t say this novel is at par with Gone Girl, but it comes very close to it., since the whole psychological – voyeuristic aspect of it becomes quite realistic.
Originally published in Royal Palm Golf and Country Club magazine, November 2015