Skip to main content

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Typically I've never been a recent-author person. I have survived (been overwhelmed rather) by writers gone by, with the exception of J.K. Rowling obviously, who, unfortunately, has dimmed everyone else's sheen who came after her. So, when my colleague expounded the benefits of keeping up with the times - particularly along the literary lines - I was forced to think of climbing out of my shell. So he lent me The Girl on the Train. This happened possibly a month back; it took me a couple of weeks to read the book, and my verdict is an uh-huh (or as Sheldon would put it as colon dash).

I'll say upfront what I didn't like about the book. It seemed too cinematic in its veins - right from the plot to the way it unfolded. While being cinematic is what draws me to a lot of books, The Girl on the Train also dabbles effusively into the deepest, scariest, ugliest parts of our minds, which caught my fancy in a macabre way. Somehow as the book was progressing - trying to keep the tautness of the thriller alive - I was more fascinated by the way the women were thinking. Being a woman myself, there were parts I empathised with, parts I were horrified to read about and parts which raised hopes in me. Suddenly I wanted the book to be about the women alone. It offered an explanation to the root of all our problems. In short, I was getting sucked into a gang of girls, trading experiences and nodding our heads sagely.

But then there was this murder to solve.

See, even as I write this, I realise that there  is nothing wrong with the book per se. In fact, it was quite a refreshing read in terms of the flow of the language and the ease with which Hawkins delves into the female psyche. The murder kept getting in the way. While, it was shocking, especially since it involved Megan, I just hoped they would announce who the killer was and move on to how these women were picking up their pieces again. I guess the cocktail of a sensitive topic like abuse of women at several levels and their consequent delusional thinking, with something as raw as a murder didn't go down very well with me.

Having said that, the unravelling of the mystery was very masterful indeed. Rachel's incoherence lent the Memento style of reconstruction of the events of that fateful evening. Since the story was mostly through her eyes, I loved the way the inconsistencies in her thoughts started burning holes in her blanket. The characters were built up in a very real-time manner, the way we - as first time observers - get to know the layers to their personalities. The only simple character in the story was possibly Megan, though one could argue that she lacked the scope to prove her point.

It was all a very good read, I shall not deny that. Only that the climax wasn't quite what I enjoyed. It seemed, as I have mentioned before, too cinematic considering the otherwise softer nature of the book. It felt as if it was destined to be converted into an HBO miniseries. While a miniseries like that wouldn't fail to capture my attention, on the paper it seemed a bit meh.  


Popular posts from this blog

Man-Eaters of Kumaon - Jim Corbett

Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 5/5

This one is decidedly a classic, so there is little point in reviewing this book. It is a beautiful one, without doubt. 
Personally, I avoid any form of entertainment (books, movies, plays, anything) which features cruelty - either directly or tacitly - towards animals (I have not yet seen any of the Planet of the Apes movies, Ant Man was uncomfortable too). So deciding to read this book took a certain degree of convincing. 
Much credit goes to the beautiful cover of the book. This one is an Aleph Classics (co-founded by David Davidar of The House of Blue Mangoes fame, and Rupa Publication) edition. In terms of sheer elegance, the cover design is unmatched.

The palette concept of jungle green coupled with the late afternoon sun creates an ambiance even before you delve into the pages. I picked out the book from a thin pile on a shelf in the little HigginBothams book-store near Charing Cross in Ooty, one biting winter evening (more on that later), such w…

Higginbothams of Ooty

It took us some time to decipher that the name of the crossroad was Charing Cross. After all, it is an unexpected name for an Indian crossroad in Tamil Nadu, and the mildly opinionated chap driving us to our hotel had a heavy accent. Charing Cross turned out to be a triangular enclosure, with an imposing fountain (we later discovered that it was named the Adam's Fountain; it is three-tiered, the second one topped by four very colourful cherubs). Since we had arrived in the middle of the afternoon in the thick of winter, the roads were thronging with people and vehicles. Shops were bustling and business appeared brisk. Our driver skilfully negotiated the traffic as we passed woollens shops, gift houses, eateries, groceries and mobile-phone shops. 
We returned to the market later in the evening, after having deposited our luggage. Both my husband and I had been fending off a nasty bout of flu and needed to restock our now near-empty medicine pouch. Charing Cross in the evening (thi…

Top 10 books to read when you are depressed

Books are handy weapons to stave off blues - be it the dregs of the Sunday evening or a nasty bout of flu. When you are depressed, it takes herculean efforts to shake off the feeling. And I'm not even talking about the more severe, clinical form of depression. I can't get myself to pour myself a glass of water the day after Diwali; on Fridays on the other hand, I am the epitome of eternal sunshine. For such moody, dull days, these top 10 books are the surest way to dust a little sparkle in your life.
1) Three Men In A Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog): This is Jerome K. Jerome at his absolute best. It was published some 130 years back and is still capable of eliciting raucous laughter. It is the honest journal of three young, bumbling flatmates and their dog on a river cruise. Look out for some meandering, pedantic pages, but they offer some relief from the relentless humour. 
2) James Herriot'sDog Stories: If you love animals (and dogs, in particular), this is the ultimate…