A good read, if you ignore the annoyances

March 11, 2015

The Girl on the Train,

by Paula Hawkins (Doubleday, RRP $37):

Every morning, Rachel catches the same train to the same destination, to her same job, and passes the same houses on her journey.

And every morning that train stops at the same signal, overlooking a row of houses and their back gardens.

Rachel has started to imagine the lives of the people she sees on her daily commute: their  relationships, their daily lives and their rituals. She has started to feel like maybe she even knows these people, so much so that she has even given them names in her daily imaginings of their perfect lives.

If only Rachel could be as happy as they seem.

Then, one morning, as the train is stopped at the signal and as she looks into the lives of the couple she has dubbed Jess and Jason, she sees something shocking. It’s all over in a minute, but it rattles her. Everything’s changed.

And now, Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives — until now — she has only watched from a distance.

If you enjoyed Gone Girl, you’ll enjoy this: it’s full of twists and intrigue, but the lead character annoyed the hell out of me. OK, I understand that she’s a bit of a mess with her broken marriage and drinking issues, but there comes a point where enough is enough: I wanted to reach into the pages of the book and bitch-slap the stupid behaviour out of her by half-way through the story.

I suppose that in some ways it’s actually a wee bit refreshing to have a female lead who isn’t one of those impossibly pretty types, or a damsel in distress. We are all flawed in one way or another, so that adds realism. It’s just that the repeating of those flaws came too thick and fast.

However, despite that, it’s a good read, and certainly well-written, and it’s worth persevering with the self-destructive and irritating Rachel.

Jillian Allison-Aitken

I come from the other land down under, where men are men, and sheep are nervous. I'm a sub-editor and in the past have been a proof-reader, news editor and web editor. I am also an ex-columnist, and book and software reviewer for the local daily newspaper.I still read. A lot. And surf the web. Also a lot.You'll find a little about both of those pastimes here, and on By George.

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