I am a member of a book club. The Land Mermaids Book Club, to be exact. A few years ago, one of my reading-minded friends said, “Let’s start a book club!” So we did. It was a new experience for me, and one that I have thoroughly enjoyed. It has helped me to branch out and read books I never would have chosen for myself. My friend has since moved to a different state and could no longer participate, but very recently (as our in-person numbers have started to dwindle), we opened the book club on Facebook to try to engage other reader friends in our discussions. Now my friend gets to rejoin the book club, and other long distance friends are getting to take part as well. It’s an exciting time for our little group of women! I’m eager to see how the online discussions will go.
Two of my friends and I are still meeting in person to discuss the book first and then we open up full spoilery discussions to the online group. Despite our new social media contingent, we had no desire to disband our in-person meetings because we meet at a different restaurant every month, and who doesn’t want to go out to eat and talk about books? This girl certainly does! My husband jokingly calls our book club the restaurant club, and I’m okay with that. I make no apologies about enjoying trying new restaurants and eating out with friends just as much as I enjoy discussing our chosen book. The book we read last month was The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, and I felt this was as good a book as any for my first review. Interested? Read on!
Title: The Girl On The Train
Author: Paula Hawkins
Format I Read: Kindle
Synopsis: Rachel, a barely functioning alcoholic with an active imagination, witnesses (or thinks she witnesses) a crime. Her life is quickly falling apart, and her drinking and memory loss mean that no one, herself included, trusts her disjointed memories. When a local woman goes missing, Rachel feels she may have the key to what happened, but she has to try to put her life back together in order to figure out what she knows.
Thoughts: My husband and I watch a lot of films (as well as read a lot of books). One of our absolute favorite film genres is Gialli which are (mostly) Italian crime thrillers from the ’70s and ’80s. They have black-gloved killers, oodles of color and style, and usually a mystery where the main protagonist has seen or heard something important but for some reason cannot recall it. Only a few chapters into The Girl On The Train I told my husband, “This is a giallo!” I was hooked.
Hawkins’ writing is descriptive in an accessible way. It never feels overly wordy but still draws you in and keeps you there. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a different woman in the story. We hear mostly from Rachel, our main character, but we also get chapters from Megan (the missing woman), and Anna (another integral female character). I really enjoyed the way this was executed. Hawkins does a good job of weaving each woman’s side of the story together, yet it never feels disjointed as that style of writing sometimes can.
Rachel is a difficult main character. She is so far entrenched in her self-destructive behavior that I felt sorry for her, but her actions also make me feel slightly disgusted with her at the same time. Hawkins does not sugarcoat the terrible consequences of alcoholism, and you can sense the coming of Rachel’s complete deterioration if something does not soon change.
As for the mystery, Hawkins pieces the worlds of the narrators together in a way that I think helps the reader draw the correct conclusion. I don’t necessarily enjoy figuring out the solution before the author’s reveal, but it did not detract in any way from my enjoyment of this book. Plus, the ending was totally satisfying. I enjoy a book that makes me think, tears down convention, and forces the unhappy ending, but sometimes I love it when a book ends and you’re just like “Yes! That is EXACTLY what I wanted to happen.” Overall, this book was a good mystery with real characters and definitely worth the reading time. Check it out!