Every day when she’s on the train into London Rachel watches a young couple (she calls them Jason and Jess) lounging outside their home and wonders what it must be like to be them. Her train frequently gets stuck at a signal by their house and this gives her ample time to ponder and day dream about what their lives must be like. But things haven’t been going well for Rachel. She is divorced, has a drinking problem, and has little to look forward to in her life. When Jess, whose real name we find out is Megan, disappears Rachel is noticeably upset and soon finds a way to meet Jason (actual name Scott) and stumbles deeper into the disappearance than she’d like to be. (Or does her involvement give her a reason to get out of bed in the morning?)
Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train has been touted as the next Gone Girl. Like that recent hit there are twists and turns all over the place, but I actually preferred Hawkins’ novel to Gone Girl. Rachel is an unreliable narrator due to the blackouts she frequently suffers when she drinks. She has trouble piecing together what happened the night before. Despite, or maybe because of, her knack for making bad decisions, I found her fascinating to follow and even a sympathetic character to some degree. With Gone Girl the main characters were frequently unlikeable and seemed to become shallow whenever it suited the novel’s plot. Girl on the Train on the other hand succeeds as a page turner and a character study.