Saturday, April 23, 2016

New Review! Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, 5 Cranky Crazy Pants Stars

A friend of mine recommended reading The Girl on the Train and it's been on my TRB list for some time.  Last week, I went to Scotland with my husband and I spotted the book on the shelves.  Quite often, books with rave reviews leaves me disappointed, but this is not one of them.  I finished the book in almost one sitting (if you count the different planes, trains, and automobiles).

Rachel takes the train into London every morning, passing the house she used to live in with her ex-husband, Tom.  He's remarried now to Anna, the woman he cheated on Rachel with, and they have a child.  Rachel washes away her grief and pain with alcohol.  

A few houses down live a couple who fascinate Rachel.  She calls them "Jess and Jason": they are the perfect couple, representing everything she has lost until one day, Rachel witnesses something shocking. 

"Jess and Jason" are Scott and Megan Hipwell.  Megan is missing and Rachel feels compelled to insert herself in the mystery, offering what she knows to the Police.  It fuels an already flammable situation with her ex husband and his new wife.

The Girl on the Train is a compelling exercise in character study.  Told from multiple points of view, each narrator is unreliable: the alcoholic, the liar, and the cheat.  They're flawed, lying, faking, and filled with despair in lives that are disappointing.  

Sometimes, actually, most times, they're unlikable, but fascinating.  It pushed all my buttons and I don't think I've winced or cringed so badly for a fictional character.  

I found the depiction and analysis of gender, especially women's roles in modern society,  insightful.  The way in which women scrunch themselves into roles, appropriating society's fantasies, competing with one another, inflicting harm (intentionally or unintentionally), in Disturbia is uncomfortable and thought provoking.

This is not a perfect book, but its gritty, dark, melancholy, and the central mystery kept me flicking pages until I got to the end.  

If you like psychological thrillers and books that haven't adopted the pleonastic editing approach i.e. removing all the texture of language, I highly recommend it. 

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