I think that when I flagged up that I was going to read this I said that I must be the last person in the known galaxy to do so (that wanted to read it in any case) but I’ve discovered that I’m not so that’s gratifying. I have a natural ambivalence to books being touted as The Next Big Thing – yes, I want to read them because they are being raved about, but I don’t want to read them at the same time as everyone else because hype and also because I want the dust to settle and not be too influenced by the succession of reviews that inevitably follow.
I should also admit to not buying this but borrowing it from a friend who brought it all the way from Edinburgh for me (though it sat in Silvery Dude’s desk for a month before I was able to collect it due to everyone forgetting the plan for handing it over).
Having said all that, what’s The Girl on the Train all about (in case you’ve been under a rock or something)?
From the blurb:
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows that it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She even feels that she knows the people who live in one of the houses.
And she makes up a life story for them and then sees something unexpected which shocks her, and then the woman who lives there goes missing and Rachel inserts herself into their lives…..
Why did I want to read it?
See above. Also, as someone who regularly commuted by train into London for many years I know the pleasure of looking into people’s gardens as you trundle past.
What did I think of it?
I enjoyed reading this very much but I really think as a novel it wasn’t helped by the hype surrounding it. It’s very well written, has a story that really grips you but is not the great big new thing that the marketing campaign implied. The comparisons to Gone Girl (read and reviewed here) didn’t help either; I can see the superficial resemblance (multiple alternating viewpoints, unreliable narrators, people not being what they seem) but it has significant differences. It’s very British for a start (and I mean that as a good thing).
I also found Rachel, the main character, much more sympathetic than those in GG; I actually worried for her at several points in the book. I know that in real life she would be horrendously annoying and I would probably cross the road to avoid her but her vulnerability and desperate need to be involved to give herself some purpose was convincing and very sad.
I worked out who the baddie was likely to be about two-thirds of the way through but not the details of the solution so it didn’t get in the way of enjoying the unravelling of the mystery.
So, worth reading if you enjoy a good thriller but don’t get carried away by the marketing spiel.