So, I finally got round to reading, The Girl on the train. I have seen this book doing the rounds on WordPress for months and it’s been underlined and underlined on my TBR list. I’ve mentioned this a little but recently I’ve been struggling a little with anxiety it’s nothing that can’t be fixed fingers crossed but after a big talk through with the wonderful Mumma B a couple of days later this book arrived with the note ‘just because x Lots of Love Mum xxx.’
I’m nearly twenty two and she’s still there for me every step of the way… what’s that quote again? Mothers hold their children’s hands for a while but their hearts forever. She is my saving grace and one of my best friends. I read this in two sittings; on the way to Copenhagen and the way back. Done and dusted and I utterly devoured it. It is definitely worth a read, and I bloody loved it.
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.
So, the blurb had me from the word go. There’s something about it that really draws you in and makes you sit up and listen. The book, as the blurb states follows Rachel the girl on the train. We first meet her as she is cracking open a pre-mixed G+T on the way home from work. She states wearily, “it’s Friday, so I don’t have to feel guilty about drinking on the train. TGIF. The fun starts here.” But not is all as it seems; as Rachel travels along the backs of the house, ignoring number twenty three and the one in which she used to live, (and where her ex-husband Tom still does) she instead focuses all her attention on number fifteen. Rachel watches out for the youthful couple who live there, named by her Jess and Jason. Each time she takes the train she looks out for them, whimsically dreaming about their perfect life.
However, one day she sees something that shocks her and then next day seeing that Megan (Jess) is missing she decides to tell the police what she has seen. But there’s a problem; Rachel has a problem with blackouts brought on by her drinking habits and the police immediately dismiss her labelling her a ‘rubber-necker.’ She has also been harassing Tom and Anna (his new wife) and sending drunken emails, calls and turning up at the house the night that Megan goes missing. We watch as Rachel struggles with her alcoholic tendencies as she tries to remember the night. She knows there was a man with red hair, a blue dress, blood and she was in the underpass. But that’s all. What really happened to Megan? Is Scott (Jason) to blame? Or are there others that need to come forward.
There are many reasons why I loved this book and I’m going to try my damned hardest to put it all down coherently. I thought the writing and the move to make Rachel such a flawed character was a really bold mood by the author. Rachel is often in a state of drunkenness, and we see the vomit on the stairs, the excuses for her abrasive behaviour and the soggy urine soaked underwear in clear clarity. It’s a strong writing of the cycle of alcoholism and the struggles that Rachel goes through to break them.
Rachel is written in an odd tone, she’s a little spiteful especially of Anna and her self-pitying throughout. She comes across weak however you want, or need her to come to terms with it all. She is written as both over-weight and a little unattractive and you can’t help but feel a sense of compassion for her. Anna is a glossy, yummy-mummy but as the plot continues we begin to see more similarities between her and Rachel. Megan is bright and buoyant but as we learn more about her and the plot dirties we see her in a different light, much like both Tom and Scott (Jason.) I thought the authors ability to change the characters so subtly throughout so you’re constantly re-evaluating each of them was skilfully done.
This review is going to go on forever so I apologise. The writing is strong and pure, the perfect amount of description but not so much that the plot stilts or becomes boggy. I loved the writing about the trains (I’m a bit of a train fan: sad to say but true) and thought the clever contrasts between the three women was written with a real understanding of character build up. The plot conjures up a number of red herrings which help to sway the reader in the wrong direction and although I did guess the twist before it finally appeared it was written with dexterity and a real understanding of how to feed a story to the reader.
I could have gone on another page but my mother tells me my reviews are too long already! Hawkins is a stunning author, her ability to mix different time frames, and characters whilst also weaving a thriller plot line and the devastating tale of Rachel’s drinking was wonderfully done. It’s not so much a punchy thriller but one that tells a chilling tale that will stay with me for a long time. Bang on.