“The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”
I can’t remember the last time I was so engrossed in a book’s story and characters that I managed to finishing reading it in less than a day.
The Girl on the Train is a crime-thriller novel written by Paula Hawkins, and it was published in 2015. The world went crazy about the novel, and it soon won several awards. At first, I would only hear about this book when I was at home watching Loose Women on a weekday afternoon and so I thought ‘oh it seems to be the kind of book that a woman in her mid-50s would read.’ I also never really made the effort to actually look into what the book was about. It both looked and seemed like it definitely was a book that older women would spend their time reading when their husbands were at work during the day.
I only started paying attention to the book when I went to see Me Before You with my friends at the cinema last week. The trailer for the film was shown on the screen, and even before I realised what it was I instantly wanted to see it. I have a love for crime-thriller novels, one in particular I enjoyed was James Hayman’s ‘The Cutting’ (it’s worth checking out), so when I realised what this novel and soon-to-be-movie was about I felt the necessity to read it.
The book is very similar to that of Gone Girl; a woman in a strained relationship goes missing and everyone instantly assumes that the husband is to blame. However, this story is a lot more sinister. The story focuses on and is told from the perspective of three very different women: Rachel, Anna and Megan. Rachel is ‘the girl on the train’, who commutes to London every day despite being fired from her job for being an alcoholic. On this train she comes past two important houses; the first is owned by Megan and her husband Scott, whose lives Rachel has taken a particular interest in, and the second is owned by her ex-husband Tom and his wife Anna, both of which were having an affair whilst Tom was married to Anna. When one day Rachel witnesses Megan kissing another man that isn’t Scott, she starts getting involved in these people’s lives more than she wishes. Soon after Rachel sees this, Megan goes missing, and it’s truly a thrilling read.
I am fascinated with character development in stories, but Rachel’s one is very confusing. You’re not sure whether you should trust the character that is telling you the story so often. Rachel is an alcoholic, the reason for this being that when she was with Tom she could never conceive a child, meaning that Tom found to love someone else – Anna. Throughout the book I found myself constantly disappointed in the amount that Rachel managed to convince herself to go to the shop and buy alcohol, to the point where I was sighing out loud. A lot of the time, I realised that I could identify with Cathy (Rachel’s friend who she lives with), who is always scalding Rachel or pouring the remaining alcohol down the sink. Rachel’s almost obsession with her ex-husband really makes you think is she totally psycho, or is there more to it? When Rachel makes decisions to call or email Tom when she’s drunk, my reaction is ‘for god’s sake not again’. These actions of emailing her ex and always drinking pushes me to the limit of wanting to shut the book and never touch it again because it angers me so much. However, Hawkins did a great job of stopping me from that due to storyline development and also making me as a reader realise that these descriptions of an alcoholic with a dismal background is very close to the truth of how it is in real life. It’s almost like Hawkins pushes you to the edge of anger and disappointment in Rachel, but knows that you’re close to stopping reading, then she turns everything around. You really become emotionally invested in Rachel, because although she’s always making stupid decisions, there’s just something about her that makes you care.
Surprisingly you don’t know all that much about Megan and Scott’s personalities until the end of the book – when it gets really sinister. I won’t spoil it for you, but almost every single characters’ personality has done a complete U-turn. Megan’s diary entries don’t come into play until about halfway through the book, even then it’s just flashbacks. Her entries address the issues that she has, and how blind her husband was to see them. You almost feel sorry for Megan; however, she is not given that much time or her story isn’t told in that much detail that you don’t really care whether she turns up dead or alive. If there’s one thing you feel sorry for, she’ll suddenly make you angry by doing something wrong in the next instant. Even though this book revolves around the disappearance of her, it’s everyone else’s lives that matter; Scott’s, Rachel’s, Anna’s, Tom’s.
Throughout the whole book I had no idea who the real person responsible was, and although I wanted to know who it was, I didn’t give into the temptation to look at the end of the book and try to guess who it was. I’ll just say this; every character is involved with each other some way, and I guess that the person who is responsible was never obvious, but it was a fair shock too.
The Girl on the Train has been turned into a movie adaptation and will be released on October 7th 2016. I urge you to read the book, and I truly do hope that the movie will be just as good. It features an all-star cast – Emily Blunt as Rachel, Luke Evans as Scott, Rebecca Ferguson as Anna, Justin Theroux as Tom and Haley Bennett as Megan.
You can buy the book here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Girl-Train-Paula-Hawkins/dp/0552779776/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1466252634&sr=8-1&keywords=the+girl+on+the+train
Watch the trailer for the film on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CKPj4O5_9s