Classification: Realistic Fiction
Genre: Murder /Mystery;Contemporary;Thriller
Format: Hardcover; 336 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books (2015)
Author's Website: http://paulahawkinsbooks.com/
Notes: I bought this one.
Every work day morning, Rachel takes the 8:04 train into London. When the train allows it, she watches a couple she doesn't know, but whom she's created her own story for. She's named them Jess and Jason and has filled in some the missing pieces while idealizing them in her mind as the perfect happy couple. That is until one day she sees something which prompts her to go talk to Jess and confront her.
'Buckinghamshire Police are becoming increasingly concerned for the welfare of a missing twenty-nine-year-old woman, Megan Hipwell, of Blenheim Road, Witney. Mrs. Hipwell was last seen by her husband, Scott Hipwell, on Saturday night when she left the couple’s home to visit a friend at around seven o’clock. Her disappearance is “completely out of character,” Mr. Hipwell said. Mrs. Hipwell was wearing jeans and a red T-shirt. She is five foot four, slim, with blond hair and blue eyes. Anyone with information regarding Mrs. Hipwell is requested to contact Buckinghamshire Police.'
'I know it sounds unlikely. What could I have done? Gone to Blenheim Road, attacked Megan Hipwell, disposed of her body somewhere and then forgotten all about it? It sounds ridiculous. It is ridiculous. But I know something happened on Saturday. I knew it when I looked into that dark tunnel under the railway line, my blood turning to ice water in my veins.'
Rachel has a drinking problem and somewhere in the jumbled drunken memories of her mind she may hold the key to what happened to Megan Hipwell. She knows she was on her way to see her. She knows she got off the train. After that there are only scattered bits and pieces of memories and feelings. Can she puzzle it all together? Will she regret it once she does?
“I don’t remember things,” I said. “I black out and I can’t remember where I’ve been or what I’ve done. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve done or said terrible things, and I can’t remember. And if . . . if someone tells me something I’ve done, it doesn’t even feel like me. It doesn’t feel like it was me who was doing that thing. And it’s so hard to feel responsible for something you don’t remember. So I never feel bad enough. I feel bad, but the thing that I’ve done—it’s removed from me. It’s like it doesn’t belong to me.”
The book is written from three points of view--- Rachel's, Megan's, and Anna's. Rachel is at a pivotal crossroads in her life. We, the reader, enter into the picture at an informational juncture where her past and future are discovered simultaneously while seemingly going in two opposite directions in the story line. We learn about Rachel's past beginning with the present working backwards. We learn about the future going forward from the present.
Whether intentional or accidental I thought the use of the train in this book was sheer genius and I love how the author did this. Trains often times in literature represent a journey--a time of self discovery and/or a period of transformation to somewhere or something new. I feel the train ride symbolizes her life. You can take a train to many places and once you reach a hub you can go back to where you came from or travel on to somewhere new. I feel that appropriately represents where we find Rachel. She has to decide where her life will take her and she can go in many directions. Rachel is presently at a place where she can choose to stay where she is reliving the past and never really getting anywhere or she can travel forward into an uncertain future.
The perspectives of Megan and Anna are used to give us clues/bread crumbs as to what happened to Megan and a little insight as to what happened to Rachel in the past. Anna is Rachel's ex-husbands new wife. The neighborhood Megan lived in was the one Rachel lived in with her husband. That is probably the real reason she became so obsessed with Megan and Jason. They reminded her of the way her life used to be. It also provided her a convenient distraction from seeing the old house she used to live in (that you can see from the tracks) that her ex and his new wife now live in. I can't begin to imagine what it would be like to have to pass that every day on your commute into London. I must warn you if you've recently gone through a breakup or divorce, this may not be the book for you. There are some heavy emotions that get tossed around, and if you're not in a good place emotionally, you may not want to venture into this one. I guarantee it will wake those emotions.
Overall, I gave this one 4 1/2 out of 5 roses. While I figured out the twist before the end, I loved all the twists and turns, the highly emotional ride, and finding out if my suspicions were correct. I can easily see why this one would become a movie. I look forward to seeing it in a theater.