YOU DON’T KNOW HER. BUT SHE KNOWS YOU.
Rear Window meets Gone Girl, in this exceptional and startling psychological thriller
Three young women, three different lives, but each linked in a specific way. Rachel is divorced and raw; she’s been drinking way more than she should for some time now. She is lonely and has let herself go. She drinks on the commuters’ train and as she does so, she imagines the lives of the people who she sees as the train passes a particular spot each morning and evening. She finds comfort in the mental pictures she paints of the lives of the lovely couple she sees every day, in contrast to her own wreck of a life.
Megan is married to Scott. She used to run an art gallery, then looked after Anna’s baby after her gallery failed. Megan has secrets she has never told anyone until now.
Anna is married to Tom, and they live together with their baby, Evie. Anna is the other woman. She was Tom’s mistress before she was his wife, and she loved the thrill of being a mistress, the drama of the secret meetings, the passion of being desired.
Each of these women narrates her story, each is hiding something either wilfully or in Rachel’s case, because she can’t quite remember. On the surface, each is living a normal, if not placid, life.
The story is told through the narration of Rachel, Anna and Megan over the course of just under a year. Each has her own secrets. Rachel her drinking; Megan has her own demons and Anna is living in what used to be Rachel’s house.
One day, while looking from the train at her favourite house, Rachel sees something that tells her that the fantasy she has woven about her perfect couple, a couple she may be just a little obsessed with, ‘Jess and Jason’, is not at all what she imagined.
What she has seen proves to be important in the subsequent police investigation. But is her recollection reliable? She has had blackouts and she is hardly a believable witness. But her obsession with Jess and Jason leads her to want to intervene, to tell what she has seen.
This is Paula Hawkins’ first novel and it is an assured debut. The characters are well drawn, especially Rachel, whose flaws are acutely observed. The pace is fast and this psychological thriller draws the reader into the lives of each of these women as they tell their stories alternately.
As each character’s story unfolds, there are twists and false turns, and it gets harder for the reader to tell where the truth lies. The different perspectives make it hard for the reader to know what information to trust.
This is a clever and gripping read, with deceptions and tensions in abundance. A great first novel and an author to note.
The Girl On The Train is published on 15th January 2015