I know I am late to the party with this one and even my copy highlights that it is a global best seller! Somehow I missed it. My reading choices on Amazon recently threw this into the mix of suggestions though so I bit the bullet. Its a global best seller after all!
I had heard a bit about it and when I got it I really wondered how you could get a book in excess of 400 pages out of a girl on train. The buy-line, “you don’t know her but she knows you” alongside the write up on the back frankly threw me and I think, with hindsight, they basically don’t reflect the story at all! I don’t think the person that wrote those things actually read the book at all. I think they probably just guessed what the book was about from the title. So this is actually a book you shouldn’t judge by the cover, unlike last weeks book!
Rachel does indeed catch the same commuter train every day, as the back of the book tells us. She is particularly interested in one row of houses on the journey and generally the train stops for a signal there so she gets to have a look at the back gardens. It turns out that she used to live in one of the houses before her husband left her for another woman. Her ex husband, his second wife and their child still live in the house. Rachel tries to see them as the train passes. Torturing herself. This poor woman’s life is in tatters. She is living at a friend’s place. She is drinking far too much. She is miserable and a liability.
The story is written from a number of perspectives, Rachel, Megan and Anna. Anna is the new wife whilst Megan is one of the neighbours living in the row of houses. Megan goes missing one night and on a night when Rachel is so drunk that she can’t really remember where she was or what she was doing. She continues to have flashbacks about having got off of the train from work at the station where she would have alighted after work when she lived there. The story continues as she tries to work out what happened, to her and to Megan. She has seen something in Megan’s garden that she feels duty bound to tell the police about but they appear to write her off as a drunk, bitter ex wife. Anna keeps reporting her hanging around and making nuisance phone calls. Is she doing that? Her ex husband keeps telling her she is and her call records do tend to suggest that she makes drunken late night calls to him.
The story builds to a stunning finale and keeps good tempo on its way there. It really was a book that kept me on the edge of my seat and the author built the characters really well. The final scenes certainly surprised me and I was quite shocked when I realised what had been happening. At times I wanted to shout at a few of the characters, particularly Anna!!!!
But I won’t reveal any spoilers at all. I really enjoyed this book. I am not surprised it is a best seller. It is very well written, it’s a clever story and very entertaining. Pulp fiction it may be but great pulp fiction. And set in England so easy to imagine yourself on the train clattering across the landscape or walking up the stairs of the station.