I was very proud of myself for going as long as I did without reading The Girl on the Train while simultaneously avoiding any spoilers of the twist and the reveal. After Gone Girl‘s twisty turny ride and the onslaught of similar twisty turny plots came out, I resisted the trend. It is something that really bothers me, market flooding. I get that imitation is the best form of flattery however if an author does something truly spectacular in a genre that does not mean that every title in the six months following needs to follow the same pattern (read my pseudonym article to see how Stephen King solved this problem). That being said, I resisted the raves that came out following the release of The Girl on the Train (hence forth seen as GotT). However, with the movie coming out soon, I had to adhere to my policy of book reading before movie viewing even though this does from the trailer to seem to be more of a “based on” than “adapted from”. This is more of an overview of my thoughts on the novel as I wish not to spoil this book as it was not spoiled for me. So, here it is:
The tale of the GotT is told to us through the perspective of three unreliable narrators. We have Rachel (who is the title character) who commutes to London every morning on the same train and it is on this train that Rachel observes Megan and her husband Scott (Rachel doesn’t know their real names at the start). The observations seem harmless, she sees them from the train everyday and creates a mental profile of their lives; seeing them as characters more than people. It is made abundantly clear to us from the second page onward that Rachel is an alcoholic. Like full on day drinking, all the time drinking, alcoholic. Hence, her unreliability.
Our second narrator is Megan. There aren’t so much chapters, the way the book is laid out, but with each perception shift, the woman whose view it is in is up in the chapter heading space and there are notations of dates and times of day. Somewhat diary/snapshot like however the timeframes are restrained to morning and evening. Why am I detailing this? Well, it is from this that we see that these view points are nonlinear. This is important later on as events unfold and you gather details out of order and piece them together. It makes the puzzle engaging and you quickly realize that every piece of the story matters. We learn slowly that Megan is not happy with her life. She feels agitated and stuck; like there is something else that is just beyond her reach that would complete things for her. A former gallery owner, she is restless and while she seems to think she is good at hiding this from everyone…that is not always the case.
Lastly, we gain pieces of our story from Anna who is married to Tom. Their courtship and family beginnings are unfolded at a nice pace and we slowly learn that these three women are separated by a small number of degrees and that makes their web even tighter than you might at first realize. Anna has snooty opinions of other women and so her views of our two fellow narrators is a bit colored for her own personal reasons. She is no more reliable that the alcoholic or the pretender. So, it all trickles down to the fact that everyone has secrets and none of us are as completely fine as we might present.
These three women’s lives unfold over the course of the novel and it is not just their degrees of separation that shrink, so too does the fact that you really do not know who to trust. Who is giving the whole story or at least the story closest to the truth? Everyone has motive. Everyone has opportunity. When someone goes missing, there is no way to know who is trying to keep the biggest secret of them all.
That being said, the twist at the end was very good and pretty pyscho. However, if you pay really close attention you are able to figure it out pretty far ahead of the reveal. I wasn’t 100% sure I knew…but I was rewarded with being right which is always so satisfying, don’t you think?
Now, the last thing that I would like to follow up with is the that of the treatment that each these ladies extend to their fellow females. None of the women in this book are nice to each other. While some of it is for understandable reasons (like Rachel being piss drunk and walking out of a house with a baby that isn’t hers) most of it is a bit exaggerated. The women are mean and sneaky and snide. Even the female detective is just downright rude and untrustworthy. It is apparent from the get go that none of them are besties but at times I feel like it was a bit unnecessarily hateful.
I flew through this book in a matter of days; couldn’t put it down. It is very fast-paced and has a really quick flow because of how it is broken down. GotT would be the perfect book to put in your pool/beach bag and tear through as the warm sun shines down on you. I highly recommend it!