Monday, March 9, 2015

Thoughts About The Girl on the Train

I'll start off by saying that my thoughts about The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2014) will be in the minority. Having read so many glowing reviews of this book, I feel a little let down. 

Rachel rides the same train every morning which slows down near a house where she often sees a couple on their terrace. She makes up stories about them, referring to them as Jess and Jason. She imagines their lives are like the one she left behind in that very neighborhood, a few doors down from where Jess and Jason live. 

One day, she sees Jess (whose real name is Megan) kissing a man who isn't her husband. When Megan turns up missing, Rachel takes the information to the police. Even though Rachel thinks she understands the couple on the terrace, all is not what it seems, and Rachel discovers this the hard way.

Each of the chapters of the book are told from the perspective of Rachel, Megan, or Anna, new wife of Rachel's ex-husband, Tom.

From this point on, I'm going to mention a few particulars about the plot which might be considered spoilers.

It bothered me that this novel, written by a woman, doesn't have a likable woman in the story. The women who are the main characters have such messed up lives. For example, when alcoholic Rachel is drunk, she calls her ex-husband, Tom, sends e-mails, or does other things that she doesn't remember later. She finds outrageous ways to insert herself into the murder investigation and into the life of Megan's husband. Even Megan lost me when she follows her psychiatrist home, seduces him, and then gloats about it. 

Anna is not having an easy go of it as Tom's new wife, and it's no wonder with Rachel calling at all hours of the night or showing up on the doorstep. Tom and Anna have a baby, but Anna longs for the old days when she and Tom were lovers, having their clandestine meetings, and pulling the wool over Rachel's eyes. Anna happens upon the identity of the killer, but I found her reaction and what follows when Rachel gets involved a bit incredible. 

While the women in this novel are difficult to like, it's the same with the male characters. Apart from the unethical psychiatrist, there is Rachel's philandering, manipulative ex-husband whom she still loves, and Megan's controlling, abusive husband.

It was hard to suspend my disbelief throughout much of the book. Many of the situations felt like melodrama. The only thing that kept me reading was finding out who killed Megan, and that wasn't hard to guess. 

Having said all this, The Girl on the Train would be a good selection for a book club. There are lots of possibilities for a robust discussion about many aspects of this novel.

If you've read The Girl on the Train, I'm interested to know your thoughts.

1 comment:

  1. I liked this one , but didn't love it. Rachel was a messed-up piec of work, but she grew on me as the story progressed. I've read several books in the past year with unlikeable characters, but they were written well, so I still enjoyed them.