The story starts off with a mysterious narrator (Rachel), battling depression and alcoholism, journaling her every day train journey. She idealizes a couple of strangers she sees through her carriage window as they remind her of her ex-husband. But when one of those strangers goes missing and Rachel’s name emerges during the investigation, she is forced to dig deep into the lives of those strangers to find out what had happened on that eventful night.
The story is set in one of the summers of the 21-century London; most of the events happening at the places falling in the train route of Ashbury to Witney. The society consists of well-to-do families residing in the posh neighbourhood of Blenheim Road. Under the cover of affluence and comfort, characters are shown dealing with their troubled past, dissatisfying present and aimless future.
This is a first person narrative being told from the perspective of three women, with the protagonist’s narration occupying most of the space. The narration is full of self-talk with the characters expressing their innermost feelings. It has fewer conversations, thereby making it a slow read. The characterization of the protagonist is vivid and strong enough to generate sympathy. There is no clear antagonist in the story. The description of the events, places, etc., is detailed but not very picturesque primarily because of the plot. There is this gloomy, sad tone dominating the entire story.
I like the way the author connects three women in the story by letting them express their perspectives about each other, exemplifying how one’s state of mind can influence their outlook. On the flipside, the plot loses its grip after some chapters because of lack of variety and thrill. The story becomes a boring read because of overdose of self-talk. This also slows down the pace. I could sympathize with the protagonist, but I found her over enthusiastic interest in the lives of the two strangers quite implausible. The end is not very satisfying either. Paula Hawkins starts with an interesting idea, but the plot is not mature enough to retain its edge. The fact that this is her first thriller is evident.
Book Reviewed by Suchandra Ganguly
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