The jacket copy on The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins says you won’t be able to put this book down and I didn’t. Not once. I read it straight through even though the characters are almost all horrible non-likable people. But there is something incredibly readable about this book that keeps you turning page after page. That’s a good story teller at the very least.
Rachel, the main character, is a bit of a blubbering drunk who has lost control of her life and lives it vicariously through others. Every day she commutes to London and she passes a series of houses which she has become quite familiar with. So familiar, in fact, that she feels she has come to know one couple in particular. Then one day she witnesses something disturbing and she goes to the police and becomes inextricably entangled in the disappearance of a woman.
And voila you have the makings of a classic murder mystery plot! What I find interesting about this book is the exploration of memory loss as a result of drunken black-outs. Our main protagonist’s memory is unreliable because she’s a drunk and has difficulty recounting the details of an event, and often can’t remember the event itself. So part of the book deals with her struggle to piece together details of the incident and as well as of her own life.
The other theme that runs through this book is the issue of domestic violence and the politics of power in male female relationships. It doesn’t paint a pretty picture and certainly some of the issues she touches on would be familiar to most of us which brings relationship politics uncomfortably close to home. Last but not least at the centre of a good murder mystery is the fact that people aren’t all that they portray themselves to be. In The Girl on the Train nobody really is what they portray themselves to be. How well can you ever know know someone? This book explores this theme and the result is CREEPY. This a great quick read. I found myself going back after I finished reading it trying to pick up clues that the writer left as crumbs in each chapter. Good read!