another girl gone

It took some doing but I’m ready to weigh in on Gone Girl.  Whoops!  I mean The Girl on the Train.  If you’ve so much as walked past a bookstore recently you must’ve seen this cover in the window–you know what book I’m talking about.  And if not, get with the program, will you!  Everybody’s raving about it.

Be ready to be spellbound, ready to become obsessed . . . The Girl on the Train is the kind of book you’ll want to press into the hands of everyone you know, just so they can share your obsession and you can relive it.

I must complain for a moment that I often fall prey to hype.  Who doesn’t?  As much as I’d like to think I’m a free wheeling cool hunting trailblazer charting my own path, the truth is I’m a sucker.  When book reviewers compare new releases to books I loved, I pounce.  I do.  I fell for this when they compared The Silent Wife to Gone Girl.  Silent wife? you ask.  Yeah, I’ve forgotten about that book, too.  Well, The Girl on the Train is the latest next best thing to Gone Girl, and a $26.95 hardcover currently lies breathless on my bedroom floor.

I read positive reviews of this book at NPR and in the New York Times Book Review, and because I learned from the Silent Wife not to trust any comparisons to Gillian Flynn, I zeroed in on the plot before making my decision to purchase it.  Here’s the story: Think Bridget Jones on her worst day.  Skip past Hugh Grant and Colin Firth and she’s now a lonely bitterly-dumped divorcee, recently sacked from her job and living in London with a girlfriend.  She’s a storyteller really, still keeping that diary, only in her despair she’s taken to pretending she still has a job and rides the train to and from “work.” She boards the train on schedule each day and looks out across the tracks and into the backyards of strangers, fantasizing about the lives they lead as she becomes familiar with their morning and evening routines.  As a means of self-pity she projects on these strangers perfect idyllic story lines that contrast with her own, and she quickly becomes absorbed in the drama until one day she witnesses a shocking dose of reality that turns into a mystery and then a whodunit.  The strangers have become so real in her mind, though, so she involves herself in the investigation, only we’re not sure how much of her concocted narratives are true, and all this is compounded by the fact she drinks to excess and suffers black outs.  Well, sign me up for that!

This is the basic plot as described in the book reviews and all over the dust jacket.  So without giving anything more away, I will tell you the book is good . . . around page 200!  The last 100 pages turn, and I mean by themselves!  There is a bit of a shocking twist in the last 20 pages if you make it that far, but I found the reveal a little disappointing, especially since I waded through the first two thirds of the book hoping to get caught up, obsessed, I’d settle for spellbound.  It seemed sort of a cheap trick to chug along so slowly with such a sad mess of a narrator, but to be more generous, maybe it’s just sort of a quiet mystery more than a true thriller.  A gradual build up that suddenly explodes for a few pages and then ends.  I suspect most readers will overlook the sluggish pacing for the breathless ending, though, and my prediction is this book will sell well.

 

What are you reading?

 

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Comments

  1. Glad for your review. I wondered what the book was like. I couldn’t get through Gone Girl…I am reading The Empathy Exams right now. I think you would like it. Nonfiction.

    Hope all’s well.

    XO

    • Slipping in a review . . .

      I listened to The Empathy Exams in the car and have to say I hated it. The first essay was very good, but then the rest were so creepy, bordering on gross, I could not get into them. The story about the invisible under-the-skin parasites (Morgellon’s Disease)? Ugh! Even talking to others about that story made me woozy, and at one point after trying to describe it to someone at a cocktail party, I had to excuse myself and go outside for air. Seriously!

      It could’ve been the narrator’s voice on my audiobook, but I cringed my way through it. Or maybe I just failed at empathy.

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