Genre: Psychological Thriller, Mystery, Suspense, Adult fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Crime Fiction
Publisher: Penguin Audio
Format: Unabridged Audio (Physical CDs)
Released Date: January 13th 2015
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.
I loved this book so much and I have so many things to say about! Nevertheless, before my fingers get ahead of my brain, I will attempt to make coherent sense of all them by starting from the beginning.
This story had me on the edge of my seat. Absolutely riveting. I was scared, intrigued, confused, nervous, and at several times I found that I couldn’t trust anyone’s accounts or versions of the story. (Which only made it better) Thanks to Hawkins’s effective use of the unstable, singularity of the first person perspective and the captivatingly believability and serialness of the narrating cast, The Girl On The Train audiobook will grab you and not let go.
With the attention grabbing premise, the number of realistic themes connecting each narration together, and the steady pacing of the story, I was able to finish this book in one day.
In addition to the recurring themes of infidelity, hauntingly dark pasts filled with secrets, the strong focus on alcoholism and abuse—not just psychological abuse, but physical abuse as well—what was really jaw dropping was the fact that Tom was the source of abuse for these women. I’m certain each of them experienced psychological abuse from Tom on some level, but we eventually learn that Rachel has experienced the brute of both from her ex-husband.
I liked that through Anna, Rachel and Megan’s talks they each shared a singular fear or suspicion of someone else’s presence around them when they found themselves alone in their homes. Could this have been symbolism to their unknowing connection to each other through Tom? Or perhaps a meta reference to the reader/listener OR maybe it was just paranoia.
Besides the mystery/thriller aspect of this book, I really enjoyed the character depth and character development of Rachel, Anna and Megan.
Megan’s life (aka Jess) narrated by Louse Brealy, is the heart of the story that unexpectantly turns out to be connected to Rachel and Anna. We learn that Megan suffers from nightmares due to demons of her past and that she hates to be alone, rather feeling like she’s alone and unwanted.
Although she loves her husband Scott deeply, she compulsively and desperately needs to feel wanted, desired, and damn near obsessed over. Megan also hates to be rejected and hates to lose as if every each infatuation, flirtatious tryst or sexual encounter is a game; a competition to be won and a trophy or star to have full control over.
Louise Brealey’s performance as Megan was truly captivating and chilling. The listener feels Megan’s rage when she did not get what she wanted, demand for control when rejected and the crackling fragments of her possible suicide being the reason for her disappearance the more we learn about her.
There were a few scenes I really enjoyed while listening to Megan’s side of the story, but I think my favorite was when Megan reveals to Kamal that she had a child when she was nine-teen years old, due to Brealey’s raw and baring delivery of it.
Anna’s character, narrated by India Fisher, with her conceded, vengeful and self-centered and very petty personality, out of the three narrators was the hardest to peg. India does a great job making her come across as annoying, unpredictable, and self-proclaimed martyr of a housewife. As much as we learn about Anna and her relationship/connection to Rachel, Tom and Megan, her character is surprisingly the least developed out of everyone in the book (more on why below).
Lastly, there was Rachel (aka the girl on the train) narrated by Clare Corbett, the alcoholic, desperate, compulsive liar, lost, needy and emotionally disheveled character whom without her persistence and inability to let the case of Megan’s disappearance rest, the truth would never have been revealed.
I think some of the best from Rachel were in the beginning of the book were she admits to the listener and to her self that she knows she should walk away, or shouldn’t lie to Scott about who she is, but she does it anyway. It’s when her drinking is the worse and it’s when her character is at the lowest point in her life following her divorce.
Despite Rachel’s short comings, it was she who really brought to light justice, truth and a sense of peace to Megan’s story because she was the only one who really fought for her (albeit selfish reasons due to her need to be involved in the beginning) until the end. As the story progresses, the sober and more reliable Rachel’s character becomes and I liked that we get to watch her character reinvent herself.
Why the 4.5 stars and not 5?
First, I was a bit disappointed by Rachel’s calmness/hesitation at the end to just take her time trying to ring the police at the end and by the fact that she was so trusting of Anna (who was an emotional wreck and a woman who still hated and doubted her more so than Tom even in that moment).
Second, I would I would have liked to have had more perspective from Anna at the end as last we see/hear her from her, she was waiting for the “right time” to call the police…. Anna, your husband is literally plotting how to get rid of his ex-wife in your kitchen.
What right time are you talking about? Plus, considering she made sure Tom died at the end by driving the corkscrew further into his neck, I would have liked to have known what it was she said to him as he died.
Such a great book! Thanks so much for reading, guys.