Something I’ve decided to do, to revive my passion for words, is tweet best lines from books I have loved, or am currently reading. An intriguing line does not always fit into a 140-character block, so I’m taking some license with what to cut and what to keep. Yesterday, I finished reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. The line I posted comes quite near the end, on the second last page. Our protagonist, Rachel, is walking along a cold deserted beach at dusk and passes some beach huts:
When the wind picks up they come alive, their wooden boards creaking against each other, and under the sound of the sea there are murmurs of movement: someone or something coming closer (315).
There may be movement; there may not. It’s hard to believe Rachel. The movement may only be in her mind–the someone or something a manifestation of her fear, her desperation. Rachel is not always believable, not always trustworthy. She drinks, she confuses things, she blacks out and forgets where she’s been and what she’s done, she fantasizes–and she’s just lived through a nightmare.
Rachel is The Girl on the Train. As she commutes each morning and evening she passes her old neighbourhood, the house she once lived in with her ex-husband, Tom. Her fantasies about the couple three doors down soon become her reality. She names these people, gives them lives. It’s all just a game until she sees something off, and then the woman disappears.
Rachel tries desperately to sort out in her muddled alcoholic brain what’s real and what’s not. But, she’s not the only unreliable character–Rachel’s ex-husband and his new wife; the couple three doors down; even the therapist–no one can be trusted. With shifting viewpoints carved out as journal entries, Paula Hawkins offers us a glimpse into the minds of several psychologically disturbed people, along with a little murder and mayhem. Curious yet?
The Girl on the Train is a breeze read. Hawkins worked as a journalist. Despite the beach sheds quote, her language is not poetic, not literary. She delivers this psychological thriller with straight-forward ease and detail as she delves into the minds of characters who appear to be normal people living a normal life on a normal London street.
Except they’re not.
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