Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Book conversation: The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins
Random House 2015

Ever wondered what goes on in all those houses whose backyards you gaze at, as the London's tube that you are sitting in rolls onto its destination?  

Hawkins takes this basic premise and adds the thriller/mystery element to it to come up with an engaging tale of secrets, murder, abuse and memories.

The main protagonist, Rachel is an atypical lead, in the sense that everything about her is rather depressing and dilapidated.  She is divorced, she is fat, not too good looking, she loses her bearings quite often, and to top it all, she is hopelessly alcohol dependent.  

Still, one can't help sympathizing with her, and hope that everything works out well for her in the end.  And that, I think is what Hawkins has admirably achieved in this novel.  Perhaps because of these very flaws, Rachel comes across as a relatable character. 

I do like the format: the narrative taken forward through the eyes of the three women, told at different times and adding to the unfolding mystery.  Then there are the leitmotifs: the trains and alcohol.  In fact, the two go together, as Rachel continues to drink throughout while travelling on the tube.

There is enough of the mystery element to keep you engrossed till the end.  The revelation and the sting in the tail are well depicted.  

In the end, it is London's trains that remain with you; another character unto themselves in the book, with their screeching, undulating movements as they run back and forth along the tracks behind all those similar looking houses.

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