Rachel catches the same train every morning to work. She knows all the stops and that the train always waits at the same signal each time. She uses that time to look into the houses and gardens that back on to the track, she’s even started to feel like she knows the people living there and names them “Jess and Jason”. Their life that she sees from the train window looks perfect, ten times better than her own life. One day she sees something shocking and now everything’s changes, Rebecca slowly becomes embroiled in “Jess and Jason’s” lives and she’ll show everyone she’s more than just the girl on the train.
Rachel is an incredibly unreliable narrator. She’s a drunk and often has blackouts where she can’t remember anything that’s happened. This is sometimes frustrating for you as the reader as Rachel never seems to learn from her mistakes and her drinking just causes more problems for herself. That being said, it’s been a while since I’ve read a book with an unreliable narrator and it adds an extra layer of tension and mystery.
The book also follows Megan (known as “Jess” to Rachel) in the lead up to her disappearance and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husbands new wife. Anna is sometimes unlikable because she hates Rachel so much and while I found Rachel a bit unlikable and frustrating, she’s still the main character and as the reader you often pity her and sort of wanted to defend her. I can understand Anna’s hatred of Rachel though as Rachel really hasn’t moved on after her divorce and due to her drink problems can be erratic and frightening.
All three characters sides of the story can be unreliable; Rachel because of the drinking, Anna because she’s biased towards Rachel and Megan because she has a big secret. Not knowing who to believe and what’s really going on is the big driving force behind the tension and mystery of the novel.
I don’t want to talk about the plot that much as I don’t want to spoil it. It really is the three central female characters that pull the story along as they each know something but not necessarily the whole story or what it really means. I will say, I really didn’t see the ending coming and I was piecing things together at the same time Rachel was.
The Girl on the Train is a gripping book with some great surprises though the characters aren’t always likeable, that does tend to work in the books favour. 4/5.