The Horror Honeys: Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Girl on the Train

Hardcover Honey's Haunted Bookclub ~ Girl on the Train

A Book of the Week Review by Jocelyn

Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins

We all want to read the next Gone Girl, and there are plenty of authors out there trying to strike gold by writing it. Some worthy successors have come and gone, and this week’s read The Girl on the Train is not a bad attempt. Focusing on sad-sack Rachel, the book has a great hook – a divorced alcoholic, Rachel is too embarrassed to tell her roommate she’s been fired, so off she goes every day, riding the train to her “job.” On this ride, she struggles not to look at her old house, where her ex-husband Tom lives at Number 23 Blenheim Road with his new wife, Anna, and their baby girl Evie. Tom left Rachel for Anna some time ago after a torrid affair. Rachel, you see, to her great despair, was unable to have children and now has sunken into a depressed existence featuring weight gain and pre-mixed cans of gin and tonic consumed on her endless train rides. Rachel tries hard not to look at her old house, but sometimes can’t help it. She is also guilty of frequent calls and e-mails to Tom, drunken walk-bys the home, and in one memorable instance, actually entering the home and taking baby Evie – no harm was done, but obviously Tom and Anna are beyond fed up with Rachel’s unwelcome attentions. And in Anna’s case, she actually seems afraid of Rachel.  I suppose I would be too.

To distract her from her obsession with the goings on at Number 23, Rachel frequently peeks in on the occupants of Number 15 down the street, a golden couple she has named “Jason” and “Jess,” the husband tall and handsome, the wife tiny and blond. She watches them in bits and pieces as the train rolls by every day and creates their love story in her head. Surely Jason dotes on Jess, as she has seen him with his arms wrapped around her as they stand in their garden. Surely Jess knows how lucky she is to have a husband who wants to spend so much time with her.  When Rachel sees Jess kissing another man in the garden one day, she is stunned and not more than a little judgy about it.

Of course, as in any marriage, there are secrets and there are lies, and when Rachel sees a headline reading “Concern for Missing Witney Woman”, she learns even more about Jess (whose name is actually Megan), who clearly may not have been the golden girl she appeared to be. Megan’s husband (Scott, as it turns out) is the jealous sort, and suspicion quickly gathers above his head. But wait – it seems Megan was seeing a therapist, the elegant Kamal Abdic – is there any chance he may have something to do with her disappearance? When the reader learns that Megan used to babysit for Evie, the plot thickens further – and when Rachel struggles to remember the events of the rainy Saturday night that Megan went missing, even more disturbing possibilities arise. Why is Rachel bruised, with a knot on her head and blood on her hands? How jealous a man is Scott anyway? And who is the mystery man who was the focus of Megan’s extramarital attentions?

The book swings between three narrators, a trick that sometimes gives me pause, but in this case, it works well, as we live inside the heads of Rachel, Megan and Anna in turn. Each is an unreliable narrator to a certain extent, each with her own demons and desires, often stymied by the men in their lives (join the club, ladies!!). Some of the major plot points hinge on coincidences, but I suppose that’s much like real life.

Although I guessed the twist before the end (which I hate, I would rather be taken by total surprise, but you can’t blame the book for the fact that I was looking for the ever-popular “twist” ending) I still found this an engrossing and entertaining read. If you’re looking for books that draw you in like Gillian Flynn’s novels, you could do far worse than The Girl on the Train!

Recommended by the Hardcover Honey - 4 out of 5 duplicitous lovers for this one