If you intend your work to sell 40 million copies, get translated into multiple languages and even after years of its publication, continue to be the talk of many a town, it better be good. Paula Hawkins’ book is just that – and more! “Girl On The Train” (“the book”) is not just good, it’s bloody brilliant! It does not feel correct that Ms. Hawkins thought of writing a book only after putting in a decade and a half of hard miles in the capacity of a journalist. It would only be appropriate if she takes on this new found calling of hers as a permanent port of call.
Rachel, the narrator and the protagonist is an unfortunate woman, who on account of more unfortunate circumstances has fallen prey to the lure of alcohol. A broken marriage, the scars of which are too deep to be erased, finds its only hope in the numbing strength of liquids taking the myriad shapes of bottles, and cans. But no potent container has the capacity to contain the anguish and grief plaguing Rachel. Taking the daily 8.04 train from Ashbury to London, Rachel wistfully glances from the window of her railway carriage at her former home from which she was forced to evict when her ex-husband Tom files for divorce and remarries a much soberer and seemingly saner Anna Boyd. But more than her preoccupation towards her own prior dwelling, Rachel is attracted to the couple occupying House No.23 a few rows down her former abode. Every morning, Rachel sees the couple spending time in the balcony of House No.23 lost in each other’s company. Not knowing their details, Rachel calls them Jess and Jason. Gazing at Jess and Jason from the train to Ashbury constitutes Rachel’s most important occupation during the day.
One day as the train slowly trudges along the tracks providing a clear view of Jess & Jason’s home, Rachel is shell shocked to see Jess in the arms of a complete stranger. When they embrace each other locking their lips, Rachel’s world comes tumbling down. The very next day, Jess goes missing and from the papers, Rachel learns their true identities. Jess is Megan Hipwell and Jason, Scott Hipwell. Rachel’s life starts spinning like a wild windmill as she finds herself in the eye of an unexpected but violent storm. Following a black out caused by an overindulgence of strong spirits finds Rachel in a physically battered state, with a bleeding mouth, a spinning head with a lump on it and various bruises for company.
Where did Megan Hipwell disappear mysteriously? What happened to Rachel on the night that she suffered a blackout?
Ms. Hawkins proves that she is a sorcerer of the mystery genre by producing an unbelievable rabbit out of her prodigious hat. The book moves at a pace that is frenzied, furious and fascinating. The reader’s emotions towards Rachel veers between sympathy, revulsion and resignation. A most unreliable narrator, she finds herself caught in a vortex of emotions, whirlpool of misery and waves of hope. This clash of contradictions is what makes the book fall into the clichéd category of ‘unputdownbles’.
“Girl On The Train” – A thriller of breakneck proportions!