Let´s begin with Rachel, who is the main of these three women. She is in her early thirties, already divorced and currently living with a friend from college in the London suburbs. Rachel is an alcoholic, which is the reason she got fired from her job.
Because she has nothing else to do and she wants to hide the fact that she is unemployed from her roommate Cathy, she takes her usual train to London every day.
“I am not the girl I used to be. I am no longer desirable, I’m off-putting in some way. It’s not just that I’ve put on weight, or that my face is puffy from the drinking and the lack of sleep; it’s as if people can see the damage written all over me, can see it in my face, the way I hold myself, the way I move.”
The train she takes often slows down near a row of houses. It is exactly the houses where she lived with her ex-husband Tom. He still lives there, but together with his new wife Anna, whom he left Rachel for, and their new baby. To avoid any harming memories coming up, Rachel avoids looking at house number 23 and instead she observes an attractive young couple, Jason and Jess, a few houses down the road.
“There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.”
At first it seems Rachel knows them from when she lived there, but it soon turns up, that Jason and Jess and the detailed back story behind them (Jess is an artist; Jason a doctor) is only fiction; it´s all in Rachel´s head. Their names are actually Scott and Megan Hipwell, they haven´t lived in that house for a long time (so they didn´t know Rachel) and when we switch to Megan's point of view , we also learn that the couple isn´t as happy as Rachel imagined it to be. One day Rachel learns that herself, when the train passes the houses again and she sees Megan kissing a man in her backyard who definitely isn´t her husband Scott.
Soon after that, Megan goes missing. Rachel gets obsessed with the mystery and the information she might have about Megan´s disappearance, then not only does she believe she´s the only person who knows about Megan´s secret lover, but Rachel herself was near the Hipwells´ house the night Megan is believed to have disappeared. But Rachel was so drunk that night, she can´t remember anything about it, not even how she got the mysterious injuries on her body, the only thing left is the feeling that something bad happened there.
“I have lost control over everything, even the places in my head.”
As Rachel tries to take her thoughts to the police, she gets dismissed as unreliable, a drunk who is only attention seeking. A frustrated Rachel decides to contact Scott Hipwell even though he is a suspect in his Wife´s case, Rachel is sure he´s innocent. But how sure can she really be?
“It’s ridiculous, when I think about it. How did I find myself here? I wonder where it started, my decline; I wonder at what point I could have halted it. Where did I take the wrong turn?”
The characters of The Girl on the Train are more or less developed. Rachel herself is delusional and child-like, it was very hard to feel anything for her through most of the book, with Megan it was the same, only that she had a bit of a better developed back story, which was good. In my opinion, Anna was the least sympathetic of all three and sometimes her actions seemed a bit strange, even though she was the selfish and mean one.
The book almost only shows how bad, ugly and pathetic people can be, that everybody has a characteristic that they hide under the surface. But still, if you get past the first part (which was rather boring to me) you´ll find a small urge in yourself that wants you to finish the book and find out what really happened to Megan.
If you like reading a story, which is a bit sad, does not really have a happy ending but is still interesting and surprising, go read The Girl on the Train.