Tuesday, September 1, 2015

The Girl on the Train

Dear friends, neighbors, and Aunt Jackie. Do I have to apologize for acknowledging that I ended up enjoying this book? I know, we all laughed about it. Who wants to spend time with these people? So many issues, right? Why, oh why, I wondered, has "The Girl on the Train" been on the NY Times bestseller list for six months?

I love psychological suspense even if I did find "Gone Girl" truly distasteful. So once I had rolled along on the train with sad, deluded, alcoholic Rachel for about 100 pages I knew I was in it for the long haul. The reason? Paula Hawkins had me stymied. I didn't figure out where she was taking us until nearly the very end!  I pride myself on my sleuthing skills. My friend Don calls me his DCI - though he's no slouch - because I always peg the murderer when we're watching our BBC mysteries. Not so here.
The Girl on the Train By Paula Hawkins - US Hardcover

(This is the UK version of the cover which I find more exciting.)

Granted, there was some confusion in the  beginning of this novel. Rachel, whose life is a shambles of broken dreams, has lost her husband Tom to the "other woman." Unfortunately Rachel's commute takes her through the neighborhood that once was hers when she and Tom were still together.

Now, as many unhappy people do, Rachel tries to inhabit her former life vicariously through others, in this case, the couple that she sees every morning on her way to London. They look so happy, so in love. They have everything that she's lost. In a proprietary gesture, she names them Jason and Jess. And then Jess disappears.

From here on in Ms. Hawkins, a journalist by trade, does a great job of throwing out red herrings, a psychiatrist who breaks the cardinal patient/doctor rule, a man who seems to know Rachel though she doesn't recognize him. Readers may decide to hold on to these obstacles or to discard them, but they shouldn't act too quickly.

 Hawkins cleverly juggles time and point of view, revealing the story through the voices of three women whose relationships are skewed by their interconnectedness, Rachel, Jess, whose actual name is Megan, and Anna, Tom's new wife and mother of their baby girl. None is fully who she seems. The fun is in deciphering and analyzing.

Critics are comparing Hawkins to Hitchcock and I've read that the novel, her first, has already been optioned by DreamWorks for film. The women's roles have been cast, but not by Brits I'm sorry to say. So, if you couldn't get your head around this book at first, you may want to give it another go. I didn't choose to see "Gone Girl" but I know that curiosity will take me to the theatre to see how Hollywood handles the complexities of this one.

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