Review: The Girl on the Train

I actually finished this book over two months ago, but felt I had to think it over before I could review it and then suddenly it’s two months later and I haven’t done so.. Full spoilers follow.

I didn’t know anything about the book before I started reading it – except that it had been likened to Hitchcock’s works and involved a commuter looking at her fellow commuters on a daily basis. I was wrong about one of those! I listened to the audio version of it which may also have had parts of the appeal to me: the actor narrating the majority of it had the perfect voice at times making it feel like a hug and at other times giving it the necessary harshness. The other two voices fell a bit flat compared to that.

I think not knowing anything about it massively increased my enjoyment of it. Had I known the ex or people she knew were involved I may have approached it differently, assuming it was one of them for example rather than assuming they were just characters in the book. I fell for the red haired guy herring hook line and sinker. I thought the doctor was the one. I also then thought the dead woman’s ex was the one. Obviously for a very large part I suspected the dead woman’s partner, too.

Guessing the plot and also genre was what kept me obsessed with it for a few days. Was this a love story with a murder twist? Was it a detective story? Was it all in her head? Did any of these people even exist? The last part was at the back of my mind frequently partially due to her initially giving the other people different names but a large reason was because of the differently narrated voice for the doctor. The dead woman’s doctor is smooth with an accent, Rachel’s doesn’t have the warmth. Seeing the voice actor is certainly able to add warmth and other feelings to her voice, I wondered if this was a specific decision to highlight that this was just in Rachel’s head maybe with info taken from the newspapers.

Peeling away layers of Rachel throughout the story made me feel sorry for her – she was isolated no thanks to her ex, and people took pity on her frequently. Obviously I realise that me feeling sorry for her is part of the problem. I remember gasping in shock the moment she overheard the boyfriend of her housemate saying none of his friends would be this desperate. Then the stuff Tom would say to her, the harshness of his treatment.

The other women in this story weren’t as fleshed out or even likeable. Anna’s obsession for appearance with frequent descriptions of describing their ‘perfect family’ while out, was tiring. With Meghan I’m struggling to find anything positive about her: she murdered her child, she had two affairs [that we know of] and treats people, such as the friend covering for her, with contempt. I wouldn’t want to wish death on anyone, but she wasn’t a nice person.

All that being said – I didn’t like Tom, but I didn’t think it would be him! His ways to shape Rachel and the other women in his life is terrifying and the author did really well to not make actions of his seem alarming at the time. I went back to a few key scenes and realised they could be seen very differently with the knowledge from the end of the book! Through years of training [aka reading and watching crime/thrillers] I can usually spot motives and murderers, however I suspected anyone but him – at several points even Rachel herself! The only one I didn’t suspect was the baby on account of, well, being a baby!

The only slight criticisms I have involve Anna’s change at the end – whilst I buy her helping Rachel, I don’t buy the extreme way she took it – and the rather short end. I would’ve liked there to be a bit more and it felt a bit too rapid.

5/5 – I really enjoyed this book and it’s potentially my book of the year.

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