The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

It starts on a train and ends on one as well. Poor Rachel who goes back and forth to London each day must stop at the way station in a small suburb just outside the city where she is able to look down upon her former beloved home, now occupied by her ex-husband Tom, his new wife Amy, and their recently born little girl. A glutton for punishment, Rachel can’t seem to keep herself from watching the life which should have been her own. Then there is the perfect couple living just up the street in a home laid out in an identical manner to her previous abode. She creates imaginary scenarios of loving married bliss while watching the beautiful wife sitting out on the terrace joined by an adoring husband who fondly enfolds her in his arms. Vicariously she inhabits this fantasy world as each day she catches a glimpse of an existence beyond her reach.

Paula Hawkins in The Girl on a Train has created a scenario where our heroine, poor Rachel, feels compelled to drown her sorrows in booze which only complicates her predicament. Yet Rachel is lucid the day she sees that pretty girl on the porch kissing a man who is not her husband. Within days that same girl is found dead and so the mystery begins. On that fateful night an inebriated Rachel had tried to see her former husband, just as she often did when stinking drunk. She knows she witnessed something vitally important, but her frequent blackouts prevent her from remembering exactly what really happened. The reader looks at the unfolding events alternatively through the eyes of Rachel, Anna, and the murdered Megan. Megan’s story takes place 6 months to a year before all the events unfold, while the others thoughts are reflected as they occur. While it is a little confusing marching back and forth through time (although the entry’s dates are clearly labeled) it is helpful to hear each of the women’s perspectives in order to understand the unfolding developments. Please note that none of the men have a voice despite their importance to the plot. We can only assess their characters through the interactions and reflections of the three females. I must warn future readers that, similar to Gone Girl, none of the participants are particularly likeable. It is even difficult to sympathIze with Rachel who seems to be her own worst enemy. Despite the slow start of this book, the momentum draws the reader in, like a cowboy with a lasso, until they are caught up in the drama and led to continually wonder which of these nasty characters are culpable for Megan’s death. While I still have some questions about a few lose ends which are never answered, the climax is not only satisfying, but makes sense out of a senseless situation. Four stars.

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