This book is plastered liberally all over the London Underground network, so it’s difficult to avoid. Well, not the book itself, but advertisements for it. That’s how I found Apple Tree Yard last year, incidentally, which I was a little disappointed. Plus, when I was home in Ireland last week, my good friend gave me a copy as a birthday present. After a three-hour delay in the airport on the way back to London, I raced through this book, which probably could be well described as an if-you-liked-Gone-Girl,-try-this-type psychological thriller.
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…
I started this book on Sunday night, I think, and had it finished by the time I was getting on the tube on Monday evening. That’s due in large part to the fact that I spent four hours sitting in an airport doing nothing (high winds…!! /shake fist) but also because it was thoroughly enjoyable and engaging.
There are three female narrators in this book – Rachel, an overweight, unemployed alcoholic who’s struggling to get through life; Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s new wife, who is living the perfect life in Rachel’s old home; and Megan/Jess, one half of the perfect couple who keeps Rachel sane on her daily train journey into London, pretending to go to work so her flatmate doesn’t realise that she’s lost her job.
This book has a lot of the hallmarks of Gone Girl and Apple Tree Yard – female characters who aren’t upstanding model citizens with infinite sex appeal, but rather real and relatable women who are as flawed and interesting (and, sometimes, hate-worthy) as the male characters in other books, who are three-dimensional and sometimes incredibly frustrating. As well as that, this book is a good example of unreliable narration and it’s littered with unsavoury characters and the sort of dark and twisted plot which really sucked me into Gone Girl, and helped me along with Apple Tree Yard.
I had one major complaint with this book, and it was the fact that I figured out who the main villain was relatively early in the book. But it did throw a few twists in there which put me off the scent for a while. So that pushed it further up in the rankings than it would’ve been if I had remained convinced about the villain for the duration of the book.
This is author Paula Hawkins’s first book, and it’s a really enjoyable one. I got sucked into the world of this murky, twisted web of affairs, lies, and betrayals, and was on edge as I raced through the climax of the book. I’ll definitely be looking out for more offerings from Hawkins, as this was a good example of a psychological thriller with strong, complex characters and that murky kind of motivation which made me love Gone Girl so much.