The Girl on the Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Riverhead Books
My rating: 3/5
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Rachel is a divorced woman who would do anything for a drink, and treats alcohol like it’s water. Her husband Tom had an affair that resulted in a pregnancy. He divorced Rachel, married the “other woman” and now all three (husband, wife and child) are happily living in the house that was once Rachel’s.
The train that Rachel rides to London each day takes her past her old neighborhood. From the window of the train she observes the daily activities of another couple who reside down the street from her previous home.
In her imagination she has given the couple names and has created a fairy tale love life for them. Real life, however, cannot live up to her fantasy and the couple does not have the picture perfect relationship that Rachel has concocted. When something unimaginable occurs, Rachel becomes entangled in the investigation because of what she has witnessed on her daily commute.
This story is told from the viewpoint of three different women — Rachel, Anne and Megan — with intersecting timelines. All the women are unreliable narrators with something to hide. In fact, most of the characters in this novel, including the men are a self-serving and unsympathetic group with plenty of skeletons in their closets.
I love fast paced thrillers with twists and turns, and the many in this book easily drew me in, making it easy to devour this book in less than a day. However, “The Girl on the Train” felt a little flat.
I really struggled to sympathize with any of the characters in a book where all men are portrayed as controlling and deplorable and any sense of female empowerment is lost amidst the absurdity of the relentlessly twisting plot. I know I wasn’t supposed to sympathize with them, but I didn’t even find them interesting, I wasn’t rooting for anyone, I didn’t care about what happened to any of them.
I guess I expected more of this book; it felt lacking to me. I enjoyed both the movie and the book, don’t get me wrong; they just disappointed me a little.
Though, I have to applaud the author for cranking out a best-selling thriller that even Stephen King is a fan of. And I have to call out Emily Blunt’s stunning lead performance; she steals every scene she’s in.
One thing that bothered me: The location of the movie changed to the U.S. which I found stupid and unnecessary for a director to say that they aren’t sticking to the original book location. Though surprisingly, I think I enjoyed the movie a bit more than the book.
“The Girl on the Train” felt like “Gone Girl” without the tension, emotion or drama.
“I have never understood how people can blithely
disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.”