The Girl on the Train

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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Thoughts Before Reading:

Goodreads has been pushing this book on me non-stop since it was published. It kept recommending it, had all these ads I would accidentally click on (I think Goodreads did it on purpose), I think they might have even run a contest for it.

I mean they wouldn’t leave me alone.

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So I added it to my to-read list, but we all know what that is like; am I right?

Agatha Christie, surrounded by some of her 80-plus crime novels.

Times a million

But then I saw the movie is coming out Friday and decided I should read it before I watch it. Here goes, but don’t worry I won’t reveal any spoilers.

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Plot Synopsis:

So the book is told by three different female narrators, through a series of flashbacks and present time. It can get rather confusing, but that’s the tool Hawkin’s chooses to fog over the book and leave you guessing.

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1) Rachel

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Rachel Watson was married to her husband Tom for five years. He had an affair with a younger woman, Anna, got her pregnant and divorced Rachel. Rachel is still incredibly in love with him and hasn’t gotten over him, wishing they were together still.

Every day she rides the train from the house she is renting a room from to her work in a public relations firm in London. As she looks out the window she watches this couple she thinks is absolutely perfect; one she calls Jack and Jessie.

I wish I had that.

I wish I had that.

It reminds her of how she and her ex-husband Tom used to be.

Aw...

Aw…

Speaking of Tom, every day she passes their house, her old house! Tom moved his new wife in there, and they have a little girl. Everything about it upsets her and makes her so furious how he left her.

It's not fair.

It’s not fair.

Rachel is also an alcoholic, and when she drinks she completely black out losing that time and never recovering it or knowing exactly what took place.

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She continues to drink and ends up losing her job. She tries going into London to the library to find another, but instead spends more of her time just riding the train back and forth and watching “Jack and Jessie”. Wanting that life.

Aw, how cute.

Aw, how cute.

But on one Friday she looks out and Jessie isn’t with her husband. Instead she is kissing another man.

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Already thick with drink, Rachel continues on and becomes more and more angry. So furious at Jessie’s betrayal as it is so:

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It reminds her of her own betrayal and she starts thinking about how she would like to go over there and hit her or tell her to stop, like she should have done to Anna at the time. Instead of continuing on to her destination, she gets off on that stop and…

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The next day Rachel wakes up bloody and vomiting. She has a giant bump on her head and some of the blood on her is not her own. And she can’t remember anything.

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It turns out that late that night Jessie, who is really Megan, has vanished. No one knows where she went. Of course the police are looking at her husband (the one Rachel named Jack but is really Scott). Rachel can’t believe Scott would do such a thing and injects herself into the investigation and Scott’s life.

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She tries to tell them about the affair and what she saw, but soon she is thrust out, her alcoholism labeling her unstable and her obsession with the couple making her a person of interest. Maybe she killed Megan because of her anger? Maybe she thought she was Anna, they do look similar, especially at night and in a drunken state?

I wonder...

I wonder…

Rachel realizes that she doesn’t really know Scott or Megan, just the people she made them up to be; and that she has nothing helpful about that night. She starts going to therapy to help her figure out her life and maybe shed light on what happened. But does she really want to know?

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2) Anna

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Anna Watson was a real estate agent when she meet Tom Watson. She instantly liked him and decided he was the one for her, not caring that he was married.

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She loved being the other woman and never cared about Rachel’s feelings. Rachel was a real witch anyway. She was abusive; always getting drunk and embarrassing, manipulating, or trying to hurt Tom. And man he was such a saint, taking care of her that long. Thank goodness they had a baby and Tom was finally able to free himself from her.

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So everything is blissful in the new Watson home; except they are living in her (Rachel) old house with all her things, the baby is driving her crazy with all it crying, and Rachel won’t leave them alone. She calls all the time, she comes by, and even at one point she got in the house and took the baby out; probably trying to kidnap her!!

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Anna wants the police involved, a restraining order, something! Anything! But no, Tom always goes and talks to Rachel promising that it will be the last time. But it never is.

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In fact, it has gotten so bad that Anna is feeling completely paranoid and unsafe. In fact she saw Rachel the night that Megan disappeared and is completely sure that she is involved, why else would she be hanging around Megan’s husband Scott.

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Anna knew Megan as she just lived down the street and used to nanny for her. Megan quit suddenly one day, saying she got another job; but where in their tiny suburban town?

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And then as people search more into Megan’s life a lot of skeletons come out of the closet. Megan wasn’t the person Anna thought she was, maybe she was lucky she quit.

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3) Megan

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Megan is a beautiful, vivacious, blonde. She looks perfect, her husband looks perfect, her life looks perfect…but this woman has an intense past.

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Megan was traumatized over the death of her brother Ben and ran away from home. She was picked up by an older boy and lived with him; drinking and getting high. Eventually she left that and moved on working at a gallery, and later managing that. She meet Scott and married him, ever since feeling lost in Suburbia. Especially after the gallery she opened closed.

Aw...

Aw…

She can’t sleep, and all she does is spend her life in her head. After her husband’s nudging, she begins to see a therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic.

After seeing him, she becomes attracted to him. The two pushing the boundaries of the doctor-patient relationship.

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This hasn’t been Megan’s first affair, (whether emotional or physical). She loves her husband but at the same time doesn’t feel as if it is enough. She has been with lots of men, always covering her tracks as to what she is doing behind her husband’s back.

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She has many, many secrets hidden inside her; but which one is the reason she has been killed? And who did the act? Rachel? Scott? Dr. Kamal Abdic? One of her lovers?

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Thoughts After Reading:

I thought it was very well written although it reminded me a lot of Gone Girl.

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In Gone Girl you had a hard time figuring out fact from fiction, because the first narrator, the husband, introduces himself  having a face that makes himself always look as if he is lying. As you read you start wondering if he is a liar, otherwise why is he so defensive? On the other hand, the second narrator, his wife, tells her story through writing a journal. But is it the truth? After all a journal is where you release your emotions. It is just a moment and selective in memory.

I wonder...

I wonder…

Hawkins does a similar thing with her narrators. First we have Rachel, who is unreliable. She drinks far too much, and a lot of her memory is broken, uncertain, fuzzy, or unknown. Besides that she has an overactive imagination and the things she has seen might not have even occurred. They could just be in her mind.

HMMM

Anna is biased against Rachel, discussing how she does feel her a threat (to her body and marriage) and is planning on doing anything necessary to hold on to Tom. Could she lie or make things up to try and get Rachel out of their life? Will she lie or hurt others to ensure Tom stays with her and her only?

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And then there is Megan. She talks a lot, but most of it is shallow things. The deep she keeps tucked away with us not knowing the whole story. Or if she does allow the reader to glimpse her innermost parts, she still keeps key things buried. How will we ever know if her account is correct or whole?

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I thought it captured your attention, kept you going, and was very enjoyable.

I did figure it out:

I'm that good

I’m that good.

But was still enjoyable and recommend trying it out. The end was really good. I promised no spoilers so I’m only going to say this one thing and try to be very vague.

With each of the characters, especially Rachel, there is a label of untruthfulness or liar; due the lies they tell, giving half-truths, or withholding by keeping secrets. While I figured out which character was the killer early on, I never thought the author would take those themes of lying/liar as far as she did; giving us an interesting twist. Plus that very last part with how the killer is stopped was completely unexpected.

cluelesstravistwothumbsup!

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For more not in a series mysteries, go to The Winter People

For more mysteries that involve a disappearance, go to Cookie Dough or Die

For more mystery reviews, go to Sleeping Beauty

At the Corner of King Street

At the Corner of King Street

At the Corner of King Street by Mary Ellen Taylor

At the Corner of King Street, by Mary Ellen Taylor, follows two threads: Sarah Shire-Goodwin, Scottish immigrant settling in the new colony of Virginia; and Addie Morgan, a women trying to distance herself from her family and the disease that destroyed it.

Addie Morgan’s family is cursed.

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The women in her family tend to carry traits for mental diseases, or “carry the curse” as it has been called for centuries. Addie was lucky enough to be passed over, but both her mother and older sister suffer from being bipolar. Addie has always taken care of everybody, but when her sister causes her to crash her car and nearly kills the two of them, Addie has had enough. She leaves Alexandria, Virginia; the Shire Family Salvage Company; and heads off to anywhere else.

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She finds herself working as a picker in a vineyard, later becoming the bookkeeper, and ultimately second-in-command. Here she feels she finally has a normal life with her job and her boyfriend, the vineyard owner. Everything is going perfect, until she receives a call from her sister Janet, and is sent back into the cyclone of her former life.

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After the car accident, Janet took off leaving her husband and son. Since then she has been doing drugs, drinking, and not taking her medication. She also is pregnant, and when Addie arrives on the scene, Janet has just given birth to a baby girl. Addie hopes that the baby can quickly be found a foster home so that she can return to her new life, but soon discovers that nothing in life is ever that simple.

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While Janet is committed to thirty days of a doctor’s care, Addie stays in Alexandria taking care of the new baby, and the family business. Here she meets up with an old friend, Margaret and the two stumble onto a mystery strife with superstition. In the homes they are salvaging, Addie and Margaret discover three witch bottles, a protective charm from the 18th century made to ward off a supposed witch named Faith. As they look deeper into this, they discover that this mystery is connected to Addie’s distant relative Sarah Goodwin along with the problems in the present. Addie soon finds out that the past is never far behind.

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Thoughts after reading:

I really enjoyed this novel. I liked the way that Mary Ellen Taylor made all of her characters multi-dimensional, just as complicated and interesting as they would be if they existed in real life. First we have the character of Addie who has had to grow up fast, being the one to care for her mother and sister because of their illness. After her mother’s death and her sister nearly killing her, Addie has had enough and wants to get far away in the hopes of having a normal life. When she is called back to the chaos of it all, she at first doesn’t want to help her sister or care for her sister’s baby. Addie is selfish for wanting to live her own life and not care for her family members, but it is a selfishness that has evolved from years of trying to make things better, to only have things fall even more apart. I appreciated that the author was willing to make the character not so saintly or eager to pitch in, but showing the reality of how much of a burden this disease is to the people who have it and for their family members.

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Eventually, Addie does decide to care for her niece and her reintegration into her Aunt Grace’s home, as well as trying to mend the broken relationship between her ex-brother-in-law Zeb and nephew Eric, were extremely well done. While some novels would have quickly had everyone pull together for “the good of the child”, the author had this repairing of familial bonds done slowly. Addie still has feelings of betrayal from her Aunt Grace not rescuing her from her mother’s care and the chaotic life they had lead. She also has a lot of guilt from choosing not to be a part of her nephew’s life and not fully preparing Zeb for the reality of what living with Janet is like. Aunt Grace is angry with Addie for having left her alone to work on the family, but is also angry with herself for not having the courage to mother the girls and remove them from her sister’s care. Zeb has spent many years angry with his ex-wife, but has lived a contented life raising their son. Now he has to deal with his resentment and bitterness at Janet for abandoning their family and once again throwing his world off kilter. Not only does the author make these slow transitions, but not all of these issues are resolved by the end of the book, the family still taking it one step at a time.

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I also loved the secondary character, Margaret, the sassy, free-spirited, historian. She has been working in the family bakery while trying to find another job, and becomes Addie’s partner in salvaging and unraveling the mystery of the witch’s bottles. As a fellow historian, Magaret’s excitement and wit made her extremely endearing and relatable. I hope to see more of her in the future; maybe even her own book or series? Here’s hoping!

Please!

The mystery was done very well. At first I disliked the journal entries from Sarah Goodwin that are placed in front of every chapter, but as the book went on and the lives of Sarah and Faith tied closer and closer to Addie and her family, they became extremely enjoyable. The final conclusion to the mystery and the novel was powerful and led to a perfect ending.

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All in all I really enjoyed this novel, giving it a five out of five star rating.

cluelesstravistwothumbsup!

I look forward to reading past and future novels of Mary Ellen Taylor and her tales of Alexandria.

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For the previous mystery book review, go to Fatally Frosted 

For more stand-alone mysteries, go to The Dollhouse Murders