Review by Deb Czajkowski
You board the train, the 8:04 AM commuter train. You, like many others, take this train every morning, Monday through Friday, heading into the city. It doesn’t take long and you begin to recognize the faces of fellow commuters; all are quite normal-looking, each filling the travel time in a variety of ways. Some are listening to music, some are reading, others are on their phones, or typing away on computers. There are also a few, like you, who just enjoy looking out the windows, as landscape after landscape floats by. Are they, also like you, staring into people’s homes? Wondering what their lives are like? Creating imaginary lives for them?
This is Rachel; one of our 8:04 commuters, a creator of imaginary lives. Well, mostly Rachel focuses on two houses, number fifteen and number twenty-three on Blenheim Road. Rachel used to live in number twenty-three when she was married to Tom. Now Tom lives there with his new wife, Anna, and their baby daughter, Evie. Number fifteen is where Rachel sees Jess and Jason most days as the train slowly creeps passed their row house. Jess and Jason are, in Rachel’s mind, her ideal couple: both beautiful and happily married; two things Rachel is not but wishes she were.
Anna loves being Tom’s mistress-turned-wife; and now also the mother of his daughter. Cheating on poor, pathetic Rachel with Tom was exciting, exhilarating. Being married to Tom, well, it’s still good. But it also has its drawbacks: Anna hates living by the tracks, in the house that he shared with his ex-wife, Rachel; and she really hates the constant harassment by whiney−and usually drunk− Rachel, who frequently calls Tom, professing her undying love for him and begging him to take her back.
Megan, a.k.a. “Jess”, lives in row house number fifteen with her husband, Scott, a.k.a. “Jason.” Megan loves living by the tracks, listening to the trains every day. She loves to have her morning coffee on the back patio as the trains rumble by. To the commuters−to Rachel, Megan appears to be the picture of pure bliss. Megan, however, is imagining their happy, uncomplicated lives−secret-free lives.
Then one night, Megan walks out of her house and completely disappears. And so the search for−and questions about−Megan begins, starting with the obvious: Where is Megan? Is she dead or did she simply walk away from her life in number fifteen? If she’s dead, who killed her? And why? If she’s alive, why did she leave?
Looking at your house, would people imagine a happy family, happy lives? Probably. Does that mean your life is as picture perfect as it might seem from the outside? Probably not. We do that; we look at other people’s lives and imagine them problem-free, secret-free, care-free. But whose life is? Author Paula Hawkins illustrates this well in The Girl on the Train. Things aren’t always as they seem, and people aren’t always exactly as they appear to be. Paula starts this life lesson by laying out Rachel’s flaws, problems, and obsessions. And then she lets us peek up-close through the windows at numbers fifteen and twenty-three, right into the real lives of the people who live there.
Perhaps your life right now feels like more struggling and less succeeding. Perhaps you like a good mystery. Or perhaps you just want to know what did happen to Megan. Join Rachel, The Girl on the Train, for an interesting ride and an intriguing read.
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About the Author:
Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller. It is being published all over the world and has been optioned by Dreamworks.
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