Published by Random House UK, Transworld Publishers on January 19th 2015
Amazon (Affiliate Link) • Goodreads
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She’s even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. ‘Jess and Jason’, she calls them. Their life – as she sees it – is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough.
Now everything’s changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she’s only watched from afar.
Now they’ll see; she’s much more than just the girl on the train…
This novel is EVERYWHERE. I genuinely hadn’t clicked just how everywhere until I started reading it and seemed to keep coming up all the time. It may have been I was only noticing it because I was reading it or maybe not I don’t know. It’s a good book, it really is, its popularity kind of attests to the fact (although popularity doesn’t always count for much…) although I read a this fantastic review yesterday at Tales from the Reading Room which picked up a few of the points that didn’t work for me about it. Most of it was great though, I was drawn in, I did need to know what had happened and I guess this shows that perhaps Hawkins is more masterful with her plots than the characters.
I have a thing for trains, for public transport in general, especially in fiction and therefore following Rachel as she travelled to and from her home into Euston, keeping her eye on the street which used to be her home each time drew me in instantly, something was clearly going to happen and something, hugely dramatic does.
The narrative is told in three voices, with chapters from the points of view of Rachel, the girl on the train herself, Megan, the real name of ‘Jess’ the girl Rachel watches from the window of the train and Anna, the new wife of Rachel’s ex-husband who still lives on the street, in Rachel’s old house. In the beginning it’s hard to see the story as anything but a pile of roads leading to Rachel having done something awful. Not one of the three narrators can be trusted or is remotely reliable, which is probably why the novel has been compared so repeatedly with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
As in the review I mentioned earlier, I did get a bit lost in the narrator’s voices, in that if I didn’t guarantee I knew whose chapter it was I couldn’t always be sure, Megan in particular wasn’t very rounded, for me anyway, there wasn’t enough of her to care about her fate and there wasn’t enough of her to make her believable. The same seemed true of Scott (Megan’s husband) who seems to snap into different characters as the novel develops, perhaps intentionally but it was a little odd.
When the truth was revealed, I was more impressed, I did like the way it unfolded and how it all actually did kind of make sense but bowled over I wasn’t, which is a shame but not too much of one. Plus I read it in 24 hours which is usually a sign that I was captivated at the very least.