When you have an active imagination, it’s all too easy to people watch and then create an entire backstory for them and envision what their life is like. You might feel as if you know them, but you only know the fantasy version of them that you’ve created. So what are you meant to do when you see something out of the ordinary going on in the lives of the people you don’t actually know? The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins goes through just that conundrum and illustrates one potential outcome.
Having lost her husband last year to his mistress Anna, Rachel’s drunken stupors and stalking have gotten worse. She was fired from her marketing job but still takes her daily train into London, both out of habit and to keep her flatmate/landlady from regarding her with pity or anger. On her daily train, Rachel sees the home of her ex-husband and his new wife Anna and their child Evie every day, which is a cause for some pain. Tempering this pain is seeing the home four down of Megan and Scott, whom she calls Jess and Jason and has invented an entire life for them. When Rachel sees a man kissing Megan who isn’t Scott, she becomes involved in their lives in a most unfortunate way–Megan’s murder. Trying to help the police and Scott figure out what happened to Megan is a difficult business when you can’t piece together the whole story due to drunken blackouts, but Rachel tries her best to help solve the mystery with what she does know.
The narrative was quickly-paced and attempted to throw suspicion on various different characters throughout different points of the story. There were a fair amount of clues peppered throughout the story that made it pretty clear who-dun-it, but being taken along for the ride as Rachel tried to piece it together was fun. The three perspectives that the story was told from–Rachel, Megan, and Anna–worked to create as holistic a picture as possible for readers while maintaining the overall in-the-dark feeling that Rachel consistently has. As many people have undoubtedly said, this book is great for fans of Gone Girl as it has a similar story line and dark, gritty feel to the tale told.
Overall, I’d give it a 3.5 out of 5 stars.