Okay, okay I know I am bit late to the party with this book, I mean it was all hype when it was released however many years ago. I’ve had it on my bookshelf to read for a long time, and the only reason I did actually get around to reading it was because my niece lent me the book thinking it would be something that I would enjoy. (I’ve been lending her loads of my books, so she lent me something back in return which I thought was really, really sweet).
Fun fact: way back when I first decided I was going to read this I got it confused with Gone Girl. So I ended up reading and watching the films in the wrong order and wondered how they related to each other. I sort of enjoyed the film for The Girl on the Train, and had no problems with the plot of the book being known considering that fact.
Here’s the synopsis:
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar. Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
No what I liked about the book, and obviously what I didn’t realise about the film, is that it’s set in the UK, on a commuter line into London. It makes it more relatable in a way to where and what you’re reading (the other book that has done this for me was a book called ‘The End of Mr Y’ or something like that which was set in Canterbury where I went to university. Talk about being able to picture the setting!).
The thing about this book that strikes me the most is that I didn’t particularly like it, nor any of the characters that are in it. All the men are controlling, narcissistic types that have no trouble raising a hand to their woman. All the women were defined by the men in their lives and what had happened as a result, e.g. Rachel’s descent into alcoholism, Meghan and her past AND her present and the choices that she makes that we’re supposed to see aren’t really hers, or Anna being defined by being a mother, and not much more. Now, I get how these characters are affected by the men in their lives, but also, I don’t understand how they didn’t define themselves and move onward from them.
Or maybe, that’s just me.
Rachel gets the train everyday pretending to go to work so that her flatmate wouldn’t suspect that she’s lost her job, and the plot. Everyday the train stops by her old house and she spies on the neighbours who she thinks has it all and are the most perfect of perfect types. Obviously, when she sees the woman, Meghan, kissing another man her illusions are shattered, more so when it’s revealed that she goes missing that same (or was it the next?) night. She decides that she needs to tell the police that this woman was having an affair, and complicates the whole investigation by Jessica Fletcher-ing her way into the investigation.
Rachel has problems. She can’t let go of her ex husband, who cheated on her, and left her for his mistress. Rachel is a drunk (I don’t really like reading about drunks which is perhaps why I struggled to find any empathy for her). She drinks on the train, she causes havoc for her ex husbands new family and doesn’t really know how to control herself. It does become clear though, that Rachel is the linchpin of the whole operation, and perhaps without her the events that occur may not have happened. (For me this raises a more philosophical question in and around our day to day lives, if we don’t do something at a certain time, how will the rest of the world be affected? Small actions, or inactions, can lead to big consequences. I guess it’s a bit like the butterfly that flaps it’s wings in one part of the world could cause a hurricane in another).
Meghan was a liar and a cheat from the beginning, and although went through some traumatic experiences in her past could have dealt with them better. If she had been honest with herself she may not have ended up dead in the wood.
Anna…. I think out of all the characters I found Anna to be the least likeable. I couldn’t really pin my understanding of the dislike I had for the woman until much later on in the book and I think it came down to this: She’s an idiot. When you get with a man, that involves an affair with him already being married, when you lie and cheat and game yourself into that relationship – which they clearly did together – how can then you think that your husband is an honest man? Besides, being promoted to Wife meant the Mistress job was available. (Now, I’m sure there are many relationships that start this way in the real world, but I would never be able to trust my respective partner knowing that’s how our relationship started. You know? Maybe it’s just me. Or maybe it’s just how it’s portrayed in this book. I don’t know here). Also, I didn’t really trust her maternal instincts on protecting her daughter during the climax at the end. It didn’t seem real enough.
There aren’t a lot of other characters in this book. The two husbands, Rachel’s flatmate, a few extra characters that add nothing to the book. I like to think that the ending was obvious, but as I mentioned at the top I saw the film before I read the book so couldn’t really say whether I saw it coming or not.
Do I regret picking up the book? Not especially, but it’s one that can now be ticked off my TBR pile. Next up is Blake Crouches’ finally to the Wayward Pines series. Then Children of Ruin which is going to be my by the pool reading when I get to Egypt next week.
What are you reading at the moment?