It is an open secret that the book I am discussing is a thriller. The major plot of the story deals with three women: Rachael, Megan and Anna. The author skillfully presents all the three characters as protagonists: each of them narrates their own version of their tale in the first person.
Rachael is an alcoholic who is trying to overcome the burden of her failed marriage. She has determined that it is her addiction to alcohol that had “broken her” and then her marriage. Her daily routine involves travelling to London every day and observing a “perfect couple” through the window of the train: Jess and Jason, she calls them. She mentally gets attached to the young couple and imagines their life to be perfect, as once was hers.
Down the same lane lives Anna, she is married to Rachel’s ex-husband Tom. She is struggling to balance her life between looking after her newborn and keeping the frequent interferences of Rachael at bay from her family.
Then there is Megan (imagined as Jess by Rachael), who lives with her husband Scott (Jason for Rachael). Megan is haunted by the ghosts of her past and loves to seek adventure in her own way.
All three of them seem to lead a monotonous life just like the tedious journey of the train. The story takes a turn when Rachael finds Jess kissing another man. She becomes furious at such a frivolous action by Jess and decides to confront her. She takes a train to serve the purpose and then there is a blackout. The next day Rachael wakes up badly injured and has no idea about her actions or whereabouts the previous day. She slowly finds out that Jess is actually Megan and she is missing.
Rachael involves herself in the investigation of Megan, during the process she also struggles to retrieve the memories of the blackout.The suspense is maintained by the overlapping of Rachael’s imagination and memory, and she becomes an unreliable source of information for the police as well as Scott. The mystery gradually unfolds and Rachael discovers a bitter truth that changes her entire perception of herself.
The journalism career truly works in favour of Paula Hawkins. She is capable of keeping her readers at an edge and the novel doesn’t appear to be soggy. The plot moves back and forth, as each protagonist narrates her own perspective, but that only adds to maintain the attention of the reader.