Rachel is on the same train every day and catches regular glimpses of the seemingly perfect life of a couple she calls ‘Jess and Jason’. Her life has been something of a mess it seems and these guys represent a form of perfection. Things very quickly fall apart for all concerned in this much-hyped thriller.
We’ve been here a few times before in thrillers, in the world of the unreliable narrator. This time, we have three, and every one of them is untrustworthy in some respect. Rachel is living out a fairly miserable existence; she’s out of work, has a serious drink problem and is spending an unhealthy amount of time obsessing about her ex-husband. The fantasy worlds she’s creating means we’ve got to judge what’s real and what’s playing out in Rachel’s head. She admits suffering from blackouts which mean her own memories are wiped out entirely, as if they’d never happened. I found myself rooting for Rachel even though she’s wallowing in a fair amount of self-pity and her behaviour often seems quite destructive.
Each of the three narrators have their own heavy anxieties and the story is split extremely well between the three women. They’ve all got very different issues with their respective relationships and we’re given just enough information from each to keep us hanging on edge and it makes for a really addictive read. I can’t say I had much liking for the others involved but it makes for a delightfully despicable cast of characters.
You will have noticed I’ve given very little information here about what actually happens with ‘Jess and Jason’ and Rachel’s place in the story. This is really because the beauty of this book, as with many thrillers, is in seeing the story unfold. This is something Paula Hawkins does extremely well and I found myself totally engrossed in the mystery of it. I was able to get to the bottom of it in the latter stages but this didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the story or the mechanics of the writing.
This an easy read and one you’ll fly through very quickly. It plays out very satisfactorily, largely due to the way Hawkins jumps between stories and times. It’s safe to say that this book is going to reach a very wide audience and we’ll be hearing a lot about it for quite a while.