I remember that moment I finished reading and seeing Gone Girl, rumor already has it that The Girl on the Train is the next big thing. So as another bibliophile who’s excited to get her hands on another captivating thriller, I jumped on the bandwagon and started reading The Girl on the Train.
However, as I leafed through the pages, Paula Hawkins did not impress me the way Gillian Flynn did. I realized that those claims from the publishers were just another way of coaxing readers to buy the book they thought would sell. Marketing gambits work that way, risking content for future gain.
I’d like to say that they did not succeed. They couldn’t fool readers like me. To be honest, reading these books is like having the best of both worlds. They contain completely different stories but with a quite similar theme. Although they both presented the illusions, treacheries, and disappointments any women could encounter in marriage, one could only stand out.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Marriage is hard work.
Amy Dunne scribbled these exact words on her fake diary as she quoted from people who would tell her this. During her alone time at home, while Nick Dunne was out busy doing God knows teaching or cheating, she often contemplates about the status of their marriage.
The novel was written in shifting point of views (POV) between the husband and wife. Amy’s perspective focused on the past where she recounts the wonderful first five years of their marriage. Nick, on the other hand, describes their marriage on the present day, ranting about how his wife was antisocial, stubborn, and obsessed with perfection.
Eventually, they both lost their jobs in New York and Nick’s mother got sick. They had to move to Nick’s hometown, Missouri, to join the company of his mother and sister, Margo. And this is where the conflict started.
On their wedding anniversary, Amy disappeared without any trace and as the story progresses Nick becomes a suspect.
As a young woman who is not yet married, I know that I am in no place to evaluate their marriage. But I know for a fact that marriage is a hard work. You don’t need to be a genius to know that. It’s a no-brainer for women, not even rocket science.
Maybe that knowledge easily persuaded me into believing Amy’s claims about the imperfection of her husband and how the kind of love affair they’re in is treacherous. Not until I leafed through the second half of the book and the more chilling part was unfolded before my eyes.
Right then and there, I realized that the narrators are unreliable. But that’s what I loved the most about the book. It doesn’t only give you two sides to the story, it also makes you feel like detectives trying to solve a mystery.
The plot twist was impressive. Who would have thought that this poor wife who was abused by a misogynistic, lying husband is the real villain in the story? How could any woman stage such a perfect crime and hurt herself just for the name of love? It’s unbelievable that I started to believe Gillian Flynn’s mind is so twisted her husband should be afraid of her.
Not that she’s a psychopath but being able to develop such a character is never an easy task. The way she has plotted a perfect crime herself in this novel is proof that she’s one brilliant author. There were no plot holes. Even the detectives in the story were able to believe the opposite, that Nick murdered his wife. Flynn has woven seamless cobwebs of stories within a novel.
I also commend her for slicing social satire that was evident in the cool girl monologue of Amazing Amy; for blasting cheating and abusive husbands; for empowering women to stand up for themselves (not that they have to develop dark schemes to punish their husbands); and for proving that some marriages deserve a second chance. Couples have to make things work and reconcile for the future of their family.
My rating for the book:
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train is narrated by three women whose paths were intertwined by one event.
Rachel Watson is an alcoholic who couldn’t move on from her estranged husband who left her for another woman named Anna Watson. She was overcome by the illusion that she goes to work each day and rides a train that passes by her old house with her ex-husband, Tom.
The truth is, she lost her job due to her drinking habits and having frequent blackouts that caused her confusion and memory loss. Riding the train each day to London conceals her unemployment from her flatmate.
Riding the train each day to London conceals her unemployment from her flatmate. During this time, she begins watching a couple who lives a few houses down her old home that is now occupied by Tom, Anna, and their daughter Evie. She thought the couple was perfect but she doesn’t know that the wife, Megan Hipwell, is Evie’s babysitter and is just as emotionally unstable as her.
Soon, Megan went missing and the only witness who could bring justice to Scott Hipwell’s loss is the alcoholic girl on the train.
The first time I read the blurb of the book, I thought this was reminiscent of Sidney Sheldon’s Tell Me Your Dreams. It was also narrated by three women who were all connected (turns out, they are one character with multiple personalities).
But then, disappointment started to creep in when I felt the same confusion and intoxication Rachel felt from self-destructing. Why? Because the shifting of perspectives was not smoothly executed as was Tell Me Your Dreams and Gone Girl.
I’d like to believe that it’s Hawkins way of bringing the readers into the world of Rachel Watson. But as I turn every page, her point of view slowly becomes a burden to me. It’s not that I am an insensitive b*tch. Yes, I feel her pain. It reminds me of every heartache I’ve had in the past. It reminds me how much I made a fool of myself for this undeserving guy. And I hate it because I don’t like the fact that some women could risk their pride and become so pathetic just because of the twisted idea of love.
Despite hating the shifting of POV at first, I was enlightened when I started to immerse myself in the novel. The depiction of Rachel’s alcoholic haze gave me some nightmares. And her situation is somewhat more realistic than what Amy did in Gone Girl because most women tend to sulk during separation.
I also like the revelation that Tom was gas-lighting Rachel ever since. Her terror of not knowing and understanding the truth just leaves all possibilities up in the air–it adds to the suspense. But when everything was revealed, it was a little bit too late.
The reason why she couldn’t remember most things was because she is not alcoholic. It was because she’s a victim of psychological abuse. Tom manipulated her into doubting her own memory and sanity. As a result, she was involved in a crime where she couldn’t stand up for herself. She was used by Tom to conceal his own cruelty. That’s when my wrath for a-holes skyrocketed.
Good thing Tom died in the end. That’s the price he paid for impregnating and killing Megan, as well as cheating on both of his wives. I also like the fact that former adversaries, Anna and Rachel, were united in the end to defend themselves against the cheating husband. After all, women should not be competing and tearing each other down.
My rating for the book: