*Warning – spoilers!*
I have seen quite a few people reading The Girl on the Train – either posting on Facebook or Instagram saying how much they were enjoying it. It’s also been hailed by critics as the next Gone Girl and debuted on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 at number one. So I was pleased to be given it by someone second hand to read. (As an aside, I still don’t have a Kindle and, despite how awkward it is when travelling, I prefer the feel of a real, paper book. Plus it means I get freebies every now and then! You can’t share electronic books.) But, apart from knowing it’s a psychological thriller, and seriously popular, I didn’t know what else to expect.
The book itself isn’t very long and because of the way it’s written, it draws you in and makes you want to devour it quickly. I ended up reading it in a week or so, picking it up most nights for a few chapters. It’s written from multiple point of views, with a date against each chapter to help you orientate yourself to the sequence of events. The book centres around the perspective of three people: Rachel – the main protagonist, who is literally the girl on the train; Anna – Rachel’s ex-husband Tom’s new wife; and Megan, one of Anna’s neighbours.
It soon transpires that Rachel drinks far too much, is in the process of getting divorced from her husband and has lost her job. Despite that, she gets the train into London every day to keep up appearances to her worried flatmate Cathy. On her journey, the train stops at a junction next to a row of houses where she used to live with her husband. She has become used to spying on the people who moved in just down from her old house – even giving them names and imagining their perfect life together. One day as the train pulls up to the house, she sees the woman (who we know as Jess, but is actually called Megan) kissing a different man to her husband, Scott. Shortly after, Megan goes missing from her home after a row with Scott.
As the book twists through the different perspectives, Rachel becomes more and more embroiled in the suspected murder case – giving false statements to the police to cover up the fact that she was in the vicinity of the house on the night of Megan’s disappearance, befriending the grieving widow and making appointments to see Megan’s counsellor, Dr Abdic. When Megan’s dead body is found, it emerges that she was pregnant and Rachel steps up her attempts at recalling lost memories from her drunken blackout to try and work out what happened and how she was involved. The spotlight jumps from character to character, and I suspect Rachel, Anna, Scott all in turn for Megan’s murder.
As Rachel gradually recovers her memories, it hits her why she couldn’t remember what happened that night – she had been whacked over the head… But who by?!?!
Tom, no less!
And so we discover that Tom was secretly sleeping with Megan, got her pregnant and killed her when she told him she didn’t want to get rid of it. Now out of everyone in the book, Tom is literally the last person I suspected! I guess that’s the joy of a thriller – you’re not meant to be able to guess who it was. But to me, it felt a little bit like a stretch too far. Sure, Tom was a cheating bastard – he cheated on Rachel with his new wife, Anna – but he didn’t seem like a big enough psycho to kill someone. His turn into a madman at the end of the book seemed unwarranted and out of character. I think the murder would have been more easily attributed to Scott, Anna or even Rachel herself. I guess it’s the risks of writing a whodunit – you don’t want to make the big reveal too obvious but it also has to be a believable choice. And for me, I think The Girl on the Train fell slightly on the side of being unbelievable.
That said, I really enjoyed reading it and would definitely recommend it to others just to see whether they agreed with me or not! It kept my interest all the way through, was written really well and I felt as though I really got into the head of the characters and their flaws and foibles.
Has anyone else out there read it? What did you think of the big reveal of Tom as the murderer? Any other hints and tips on my next read are appreciated 🙂