What is different about this book: This novel evolves through the eyes of different people who each have their own view of life and events. Each person telling their own story, laying bare their lives to be absorbed by the reader. How then can the truth be pieced together when the facts are fragmented and damaged? A brilliant way to read a tense thriller without being told of the plot and I was left guessing right up until the end.
It starts with Rachel on a commute to London. Personally for me train a journey is like being in another place and time, and reading this I felt like I was on a train remembering my days of travelling to work with the same people every day:
“I just want to lean back in the soft, sagging velour seat, feel the warmth of the sunshine streaming through the window, feel the carriage rock back and forth and back and forth, the comforting rhythm of wheels on tracks.”
Rachel describes her train journeys with such intimacy that I was drawn into her life and travelling with her. This was not just a commute for her it was a journey through her miserable life with a destination still unknown.
She routinely watches out of the window, especially at the row of Victorian houses where she sees Jess and Jason on the patio in the mornings having coffee. Of course that is not their names, she has built them a fantasy life in her head.
“I can’t see Jason and Jess this morning, and my sense of disappointment is acute. Silly I know. I scrutinise the house, but there’s nothing to see.”
She is creating a fantasy relationship in her head but the line between reality is blurring.
A few doors away she sees Anna - who is real and is now married to her ex husband and living in her house. They have the baby she never had. When Rachel describes the time she knew her husband was cheating on her, Hawkins uses such a beautifully put line:
“Sometimes its a text or a voicemail message; in my case it was an email, the modern-day lipstick on the collar.”
Oh, I could go on waxing lyrical about the life of Megan and Anna too, but I would would not want to spoil the book for you, let me just say, their lives are equally as interesting as Rachel’s and very pertinent to the plot.
The disappearance of Megan starts Rachel hurtling towards self destruction as she tries to find out what happened manipulating her need for attention, recognition, self worth, and maybe something else. As reality and fantasy become confused Rachel knows she has important information that could solve what has happened to Megan. She draws you into this journey with her, with the fear that it is not going to end well.
Throughout the book Paula Hawkins gives an insight into alcoholism and its effects on oneself and others. This felt so real it was a warning, I have met ‘Rachel’, seen her in the pub, and avoided her on the street.
This is a tense thriller, at a pace which echoes the commute of the train, with imagined scenes from the window with the stops at the lights. I loved each and every character; Rachel got my sympathy and my cringing annoyance - come on pull yourself together girl! Jess; who would have thought she was as complex as that, and her secret - wow thats deep! I wanted to dislike Anna, because she broke up Rachel and Tom’s marriage, but you know that she is not that nasty. I enjoyed how the characters of the men were real even the strangers; someone speaks to you, they are in your head somewhere, but you can’t quite place them and you are not sure whether you are afraid of them.
Listen to this line, absolutely the best quote of the book for me:
"LIFE IS NOT A PARAGRAPH AND DEATH IS NO PARENTHESIS.”
I recommend it to everyone who loves a different psychological thriller.
Many thanks to the Publisher for an ARC via NetGalley in return for an honest opinion.