Book #101: The Girl on the Train (2015)

girlontrainauthor: Paula Hawkins
language: English
length: 657 minutes (10 hours, 57 minutes)
finished listening on: 31 March 2016

This book has been hawked on Audible’s front page for the last year or so, and I decided I might as well try it, see what’s popular at the moment.

All I can say is, is this really how most straight people view their relationships? Between this and Gone Girl, to which it’s often compared, I’m not filled with hope (I haven’t read the book of Gone Girl, though, only the movie). It’s a story of mental illness and spousal abuse, and it has the air of a thriller. The main character (or, one of the three, who all had different narrators in the audiobook), Sarah, is an alcoholic, and the main incident of the book happens when she’s blacked out, so she has to find out what happened.

As with most stories, there came a point soon before it was revealed when everything fell into place and it was obvious how the story would be resolved, but the author is skilled enough to string us along with something false for most of the book, and so I was suitably surprised when it started to become clear. The unreliable narrator aspects allowed me to experience this along with Sarah, so that worked well.

The train in the title comes in because Sarah is on the train kind of spying into others’ lives on her commute into London, and constructs elaborate fantasies about a couple she sees. And the same woman then goes missing, so she becomes embroiled in the investigation.

As an exploration of misogyny and abuse it works very well and doesn’t shy away from anything. The atmosphere is very foreboding, especially when she blacks out and you know that something bad has happened.

Anyway, there is a lot of good things about this book, but the subject matter was pretty dark. Like the last movie I reviewed, I feel like people could have been a bit more honest and upfront with each other and a lot of the problems would have been resolved. I also don’t think the comparison with Gone Girl is the most apt, because it’s not as nuanced. But it was worth listening to.

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