My friend, who almost exclusively reads best-selling thrillers, has been on my ass for the past year to try and get me to read The Girl On The Train. I’ve finally taken the plunge and, while it was a good read, I must say I think it’s been ever so slightly over-hyped.
Rachel takes the same train every day, and most days spots the same couple along her journey into and out of London. Living close to her former home, which is now inhabited by Rachel’s ex, his new wife and their baby, Rachel has started to build a fantasy around the perfect lives of ‘Jess’ and ‘Jason’ – a fantasy which comes crashing down when ‘Jess’ (actually Megan – whose life is far from perfect) goes missing, an event which Rachel uses to shoulder her way into their lives.
As the book unfolds it soon becomes clear that Rachel is an extremely unreliable narrator. An alcoholic who frequently blacks out – giving us most of the dramatic tension of the book as she frequently awakes with no idea of what she’s done – Rachel is also a liar (having lost her job due to her alcoholism, her train journeys are meant to pull the wool over the eyes of the long-suffering friend whose spare room she’s usually vomiting all over), and a major stalker of her ex-husband. And as Rachel slowly starts to put together the missing memories of her marriage and the many nights since then, it becomes clear that the person I thought might be a wrong’un from the very beginning is indeed a wrong’un after all.
I do appreciate a flawed character as well as an unreliable narrator, but I also spotted the ‘twist’ a mile off, which diminished my enjoyment slightly. Then again, I did read all of The Girl On The Train in one day, so take that with a pinch of salt.