Dziewczyna z pociągu - Paula Hawkins

This is a psychological thriller that covers a year in the lives of three women who are bound by circumstance & geography. One is a wife, one is an ex-wife & the third is the former nanny & neighbour. The story switches between the past & present and all three take turns as narrator.

 

Rachel used to be married to Tom & misses their life together. She's a barely functioning alcoholic who travels past their old house every day by train, pretending she still has a job. She stares out the window looking for a glimpse of Tom & new wife Anna. But lately she's also been watching the young couple who live a few doors down. They seem so happy & in love, just like she was. As the days go by, she assigns them names & creates a fictional account of their lives.

Anna was Tom's mistress but is now happily married to him. She's a stay at home mom & has everything she's ever wanted. Well, that's not completely true. There is one fly in the ointment & her name is Rachel. It's been 2 years but Rachel still has a tendency to barge into their lives when she's drunk. Anna briefly had a nanny but now she's alone all day & seriously tired of Rachel's intrusions. 

Megan ran an art gallery 'til it folded. Her husband Scott is understanding & encourages her to take time off until she finds something else. She tried working as a nanny for the couple a few doors down but quite frankly, Megan got tired of dealing with the child's mother. She & Scott enjoy sitting on their terrace, watching people on the trains that pass by beyond their backyard. 

 

We know early on a crime has been committed, a potentially horrific one. Police have cause to interview all the characters which further uncovers their complex relationships. Rachel believes she saw something suspicious on her daily commute & begins her own investigation. But being a drunk with occasional blackouts doesn't exactly make you a credible witness. It's soon clear none of them are reliable narrators. At best, their viewpoints are rooted in self interest. At worst, they're lying.

For me, the crime was almost secondary though crucial for the evolving relationships. What was more interesting was how the reader's perception of each character changed as the author slowly doled out clues. Motives are revealed & at times, none of these people are very likeable. But it makes you think about the face we present to the world & wonder if it's possible to really know anyone, even those closest to you.

As the timelines begin to merge, the pace picks up & there's a real sense of something ominous lurking just around the corner. There are no clear winners here & by the end all lives are irrevocably changed. 

It's an unnerving look at the lies we tell ourselves & others. If you're looking for a twisty little tale that will mess with your head, this is for you.

 

My thanks to Netgalley for providing this ARC.