The Girl on the Train movie will be coming out soon. For those of you who have yet to read the book, I encourage you to do so. I prefer fantasy, science fiction and classic mysteries, but this book does have mysterious aspects and twists that you may never see coming. I'll begin from the beginning.
**In case you didn’t see it the first time: Spoilers Ahead (and the Culprit is Revealed)!
The Girl on the Train has three women narrating: Rachel, Megan and Anna.
- Rachel - The main narrator and the girl on the train. She rides the train into town on her way to work everyday and passes her old house and street. Rachel notices a man and a woman a couple of doors down from her old house and imagines their perfect life together. Later, Rachel finds out about the woman’s disappearance and because of the fiction she created in her head, she feels obligated to figure out what happened. She was also in the neighborhood the day the woman disappeared and Rachel suspects the man she saw is responsible.
- Megan - The woman who disappears. We find out that she is married to Scott, but she isn’t happy. Her past haunts her and she has affairs behind Scott’s back. Additionally, she is hired by Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom, to be a babysitter.
- Anna - “The other woman”. Rachel and Tom lived together on the same street as Megan until Tom cheated on Rachel with Anna. He then kicked Rachel out of their house and married Anna. They live happily with a baby. Because Rachel keeps showing up on their doorstep, Anna becomes a nervous wreck and fears Rachel will harm her and her baby.
Between Rachel’s memory loss, Anna’s fear and paranoia and Megan’s flashbacks, there are quite a few links to connect and confusion to sift through. Rachel showed her Nancy Drew skills when she researched the suspects and interviewed them. That certainly took guts, especially since Rachel thought at one point that Scott was responsible for Megan’s disappearance.
I enjoyed the use of the “unreliable narrator” and how we see things from different points of view. Rachel isn’t even sure of herself of what happens at times because of her blackouts from her excessive drinking. Throughout the book, I wondered why Hawkins didn’t include Tom as a narrator because he played a significant role in the three women’s lives. Of course, I only realized the reason at the end. On the other hand, Hawkins could have had fun with Tom’s narrative by using it as a red herring with double meanings.
It was only halfway through the book when I began suspecting Tom as a liar since he was the common element among the three women in addition to Rachel repeatedly recounting her experiences with Tom when she was drunk and how she never remembered the things he said she had said and done while in her stupor. Authors use repetition intentionally.
The ending to the book was quite frightening because of its realism. Tom tries to kill Rachel when she tries to convince Anna that Tom was having an affair with Megan (and killed her) just as he was having an affair with her when he was with Rachel. Anna is in a state of shock and wants to protect her child so she doesn’t help Rachel fight Tom until the last moment. Tom dies and both Rachel and Anna are questioned by the police, but neither one of them mention that Anna helped Tom die faster.
I think the element that attracted most people to the book was the Hitchcockian beginning reminiscent of Rear Window along with the romance and mystery of being on a train which is reminiscent of films like North by Northwest and The Tourist.
What made me pick up the book was to see why it was so popular. For several weeks, Indigo proudly displayed shelves of The Girl on the Train at the front of the store so I saw it many times. Then, one day, I had forgotten to bring a book with me so I immediately went to Indigo with the book in mind. The cover also appealed to me with its doubled letters and simplicity.
I recommend this book and am planning to see the movie.