- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; 1st Edition edition (15 Jan. 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0857522310
- ISBN-13: 978-0857522313
- Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 3 x 24 cm
- Average Customer Review: 15,519 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,022 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Girl on the Train Hardcover – 15 Jan 2015
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"Really great suspense novel. Kept me up most of the night. The alcoholic narrator is dead perfect." (STEPHEN KING)
"The thriller scene will have to up its game if it's to match Hawkins this year" (Observer)
"A complex and increasingly chilling tale courtesy of a number of first-person narratives that will wrong-foot even the most experienced of crime fiction readers" (Irish Times)
"achieves a sinister poetry . . . Hawkins keeps the nastiest twist for last" (Financial Times)
"Hawkins' masterful deployment of unwittingly unreliable narration to evoke the aftershocks of abuse and trauma is a powerful way of exploring women's marginalization" (Huffington Post)
THE NUMBER ONE BESTSELLER.
YOU DON'T KNOW HER. BUT SHE KNOWS YOU.
Rear Window meets Gone Girl, in this exceptional and startling psychological thriller
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This aside, I got to 45% but just couldn't take anymore of said narrator. Both her and Megan were mentally challenged, to say the least, leaving me very little patience with either of them. They were miserable and it seems they just enjoyed making everybody around them just as miserable. I had no sympathy whatsoever with either of them and just despised them. A proper couple of flakes.
I was baffled by the mention of the frog at one point. I didn't understand what she was on about. I'd disagree that families were watching X Factor in July as well.
She went with American spellings all the way through for some reason. That always annoys me. It's OUR language so spell words in English, not the bastardised versions !! There were no mistakes aside from this.....exhusband's was written thus, losing its hyphen, which is very good going indeed and makes a pleasant change.
I found it pretty shocking that there are 199 versions of the same book on Goodreads, too. (Now 200 since MY version was yet another one I had to add !!) It's very annoying that authors or the publishers keep altering book covers the way they do.
Anyway, I've learned my lesson. Anything else as overdone as this one is and I'll be sure to give it a wide berth.
The novel moves backwards and forwards through time, telling the stories of three women, each in the first person, and this gives the narrative an intimacy and directness, which it might not have, if it were told in the third person.
The main protagonist, Rachel, sits on a train, watching the activities in the houses along the track, in particular, the road where she once lived happily with her husband.
As a writer, I could imagine the author sitting on that train, observing and writing what she saw, until suddenly the plot came to her.
In a voyeuristic fashion, Rachel focuses on a particular house where an apparently loving couple seem to live the sort of life that she once lived, before breaking up with her husband, and she fantasises about this other husband, and feels outrage, when it seems his trust has been broken. So far, any story is mainly in her head, but then the wife disappears, and Rachel gets involved in her disappearance.
The novel then moves back a year so that the wife - Megan can describe her life, and what happens to cause her disappearance, and eventually, half way through the book, jumping forward to the present again, Anna appears, Anna being the ‘other woman’, who is now married to Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom. The three narratives are woven together like a plait, as gradually to story takes shape, and eventually, the truth emerges.
The women’s names are all rather similar, all two syllables, and I wondered if this was deliberate, because in some respects, though on the surface apparently different, they are alike in some respects. None of them are very likeable, although once you are inside someone’s head, you can’t help having some empathy with them.
From a readability point of view, this really drew me in, but not only are the women rather unpleasant, or dysfunctional, the men aren’t very nice, either. So from that point of view, I can’t quite give it full marks, because I like to like the characters I’m spending my time with. So 9 out of 10, but probably 5 stars, here, just the same.
There’s only so much I can or will say, because I believe this book is best savoured ‘cold’ and unspoiled. We meet our narrator, Rachel, on her train commute to and from London. On most days a red signal halts the train next to a line of townhouses whose gardens run down to the track, and Rachel has become accustomed to watching the young couple who live in the nearest house. She grows fond of them; gives them names – Jess and Jason; invents histories for them, and savours their evident happiness. In their contented companionship they seem to encapsulate everything that Rachel herself has failed to achieve, lost in a haze of of a failed marriage and alcoholism – all the more so because they live just a few doors down from the house she herself lived in with her ex-husband. Jess and Jason become totemic figures to her, a reassuring sign that love can and does really exist in the world. But then, one Friday morning, Rachel sees Jess out in her garden with another man – a stranger. A kiss is exchanged. Shocked at this ugly turn of events, and moved to protect the wronged Jason, Rachel decides to intervene. But she is too late.
The reason this book keeps you reading, compulsively, greedily, is because you have three narrative strands, each of them gradually adding more pieces to the jigsaw, each of them converging slowly but surely on that moment when everything will make sense. Our three narrators are not necessarily liars, but they’re unreliable: they tell us only part of the story, or they forget; they’re driven by obsession, or they remember things mistakenly. And, as the story deepens, we come to realise that everyone has their own demons and that one’s fantasies of the perfect couple one spots from the train, in the midst of one’s own dull, unexciting life, are only that – a fantasy – perhaps darker and more dangerous than one could ever imagine.
And another thing about this book – it lingers. I feel positively tainted by its unsettling story – somehow dirty, uneasy, guilty. It’s a very strong piece of work, fast-paced and threatening, and I suggest you read it now, if you haven’t already.
For the full review, please see my blog.
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It took me a while to get into it.
The story is basically told by three people.Read more