'The Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins was getting the kind of hype that Gone Girl got two summers ago, so I fell for it. We waited in a queue of 94 people for several months. Tish read it first, and it should have been a clue that she wasn't coming out with exclamations of how exciting it was. I haven't really read a lot of thrillers, but if you like that kind of thing then I am sure this is going to hold your attention.
Rachel sits on the train every morning and evening, and when it pauses at some points she begins to invent a life for the couple she watches across their garden. It just so happens that they are neighbours of her ex-husband who lives with his new wife and baby in a house along the row ... one she used to share with him. Lets just say she hasn't really got over the breakup. So when the young woman she has been watching goes missing it's almost the perfect excuse to get involved. The only problem is she doesn't actually remember what happened. The most interesting thing about this story is its presentation of alcoholism. The mixture of guilt, humiliation, rationalisation, self-justification, anger and bitterness are all torturously portrayed as Rachel tries to cope with her fucked-up life, fucked-up marriage and general downward spiral into destitution. She is so desperate to make amends ... just not if it means forgoing the drink.
The tale is told from three perspectives; Rachel to begin with, then introducing Megan, the disappeared, and later in the book Anna who is the new wife. I did not like any of them. There is rather a lot of tedious hysteria in this book, and the women are all far to victim-y for my taste. There was too much emphasis on certain characters, in a 'oooh look how suspicious this behaviour is' way, that makes you determined not to suspect them. As we raced towards the denouement I did sit up late to finish because by that time you just want to know how it pans out, but it felt rather too much like it was written with a view to the film rights. Why do writers make characters make stupid decisions in dangerous situations, it feels lazy to me. I didn't like any of the men either. She tried to make a bit of a thing about abusive relationships too but singularly failed. It felt like everyone was manipulating everyone else. Are people really like that? It's not that everybody has to be nice, it's just I don't buy these rather two dimensional nasty people. Definitely no Gone Girl.