After a mad month that has included moving out, breaking up, moving back home, gal pals and copious amounts of wine, the blogging game is once again ago-go. As with any break-up (I imagine) the weeks following it have all been a bit of whirl, as such, tonight I’ve been looking forward to just relaxing with a good ol’ book.
Unfortunately I think I’ve already read the world’s best book, I mean seriously, it *may*even surpass Gone Girl. I know, unthinkable.
My boss gave me a copy of The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins along with a Vogue colouring book, and so far I’ve banged on about it enough she’s actually asked if she can borrow it back.
Paula Hawkins’ novel introduces us to Rachel, an overweight, middle aged woman who rides the same train to and from London every-day. In an effort to distract herself from her life, she whiles away the journey watching the inhabitants of the houses she passes– imagining their lives, giving them names. It’s a game and nothing more. Until she witnesses something that is not supposed to exist in the perfect world she envisions for them.
The character of Rachel is at once tragic yet heroic; to say she is an unreliable narrator would be kind. Battling with a drink problem, lying to cover her tracks and obsessing about an ex means it would be easy to write her off, as many of the other main and supporting characters do.
Alongside Rachel (who is set to be portrayed by Emily Blunt in this year’s film adaption) the book flips between years and moments in the life of Megan Hipwell, one of the couples Rachel watches in secret from the train. From the window in the train, Megan appears to have it all. Young, slim with a loving husband who is ever ready with a strong caressing hand. Embodying the paradox of the creative middle-class, Megan has owned an art gallery, she has lived by the sea; but is anything other than carefree.
We are also introduced to Anna. Though Anna seems to be yet another stepford wife, thrown in only to show just how difficult and alternative the other women are, Anna is one to watch. She has fears we all share; she worries about her appearance, she worries about her husband’s obsessive ex (the aforementioned Rachel), and how she is viewed in the world. She wants the perfect marriage, the perfect life and is determined to keep it.
The book introduces themes many have attempted before, ruined women, past sins and current passions. What this book does differently however, is to force us to examine the self. Not just ourselves, but everyone. Do we, as women, trust ourselves enough?
When life takes an unexpected detour, down a rocky murky path what do we believe? The cliché is that we must spend our lives getting to know ourselves, we must travel, read self-help books and dabble in spirituality at least once. But do we, deep down already know the essence of who we are? When people tell us who we are and how we act, should we believe them? Or should we trust ourselves?
That is the question Paula Hawkins asks in The Girl on the Train and in a world which is proving to be ever more divisive, and more willing to tell us through social media, stereotypes and memes what type of person we are; this novel could not be more timely.