The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

★★★★★ (5/5)

This is an engrossing psychological thriller where each character is highly flawed, incorrigible, and as culpable of heinous acts as the other. Alcoholism, infidelity, self-delusions, misplaced rage and pretensions are just some of the issues these characters are embroiled in. I particularly liked how Paula Hawkins employed the tool of first-person and unreliable narrator over and over to bring about mystery and intrigue to an already convoluted plot, which is both crass and terrifying.  None of the characters (including baby Evie at times who has almost no direct bearing to the story) are likeable. They harbor evils of lust, jealousy, falsehoods and troubling secrets. There is no savior complex in the novel, which plagues many thrillers which makes it all the more engaging.

The reader teeters on the edge, sometimes being blind-sided by a new development, and at other times being deliberately led on a false trail. An overall gripping read. Highly recommended!

A selection of my favourite passages from the book

  • Twice a day, I am offered a view into other lives, just for a moment. There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.
  • His strength, that protectiveness he radiates, it doesn’t mean she’s weak. She’s strong in other ways; she makes intellectual leaps that leave him open-mouthed in admiration.
  • I can’t do this, I can’t just be a wife. I don’t understand how anyone does it –there is literally nothing to do but wait. Wait for a man to come home and love you. Either that, or look around for something to distract you.
  • What if the thing I’m looking for can never be found? What if it just isn’t possible?
  • Hypnosis is not generally useful in retrieving hours lost to blackout because, as my previous reading suggested, we do not make memories during blackout. There is nothing to remember. It is, will always be, a black hole in my timeline.
  • The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.
  • The only time I feel like me is on those secret, febrile afternoons like yesterday, when I come alive in all that heat and half-light.
  • Drunk Rachel sees no consequences, she is either excessively expansive and optimistic or wrapped up in hate. She has no past, no future. She exists purely in the moment.
  • I’m trapped somewhere, and I know that someone’s coming, and there’s a way out, I know there is, I know that I saw it before, only I can’t find my way back to it, and when he does get me, I can’t scream.
  • It must take the most incredible self-control, that stillness, that passivity; it must be exhausting.
  • I couldn’t bear to have other images in my head, yet more memories that I can’t trust, memories that merge and morph and shift, fooling me into believing that what is,
  • After a while I learned not to ask what I had done, or to argue when he volunteered the information, because I didn’t want to know the details, I didn’t want to hear the worst of it, the things I said and did when I was like that, filthy, stinking drunk.
  • Maybe the courage I need has nothing to do with telling the truth and everything to do with walking away.

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