THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN: Train of Thought

Self wants it to NOT be Rachel.

Because Rachel evokes so many feelz in self.

And Rachel’s point of view is the one we’re inside of, mostly.

Somewhere near the halfway point of Girl on the Train, self reads an Anna point of view. Self is usually impatient with multiple point of view narratives: she thinks the switching around is really just a lame excuse for the author not to come up with a tight plot. Like the switch is nothing more than an extended tease. But self really relishes the point-of-view switches in Girl on the Train. The novel presents us with a great puzzle and a great unreliable narrator and the only way the reader can figure out what’s really going down is to hear from all the characters.

Anna (Tom’s current wife) describes seeing Rachel. It’s a scene that we’ve seen earlier, narrated from Rachel’s point of view. All along, self has thought of Rachel as a well-meaning, deluded drunk. Just your typical messed-up anti-heroine. Self absolutely loathes Tom. His diatribes, his abandonment of Rachel. Of course, we aren’t that sympathetic with Anna, Tom’s current wife.

Then, suddenly, we’re inside Anna’s head, Anna watching Rachel. And it is a little un-nerving to read Rachel as giving a sort of sneer at Anna. The sneer of a woman who is absolutely in control of her actions, if not of her emotions. Could Rachel be pulling a fast one on the reader? (And how on earth is Emily Blunt going to play this character, Emily Blunt who is so immensely likeable even when bitchy, as she was in The Devil Wears Prada?)

What’s really interesting is that, despite the fact that Anna is the Other Woman, and of course we would not expect her to have a sympathetic view of Rachel, when she describes sneering Rachel, it makes the reader question her liking of Rachel, instead of making us dislike Anna more.

Why does this happen?

Each switch in point of view is a surprise. In other words, the patterns are unpredictable: we don’t have a uniform order for the switching. It’s not Anna, followed by Rachel, followed by Megan, then back to Anna, followed by Rachel, followed by Megan etc etc

But each switch does carry the story forward. And readers find themselves becoming detectives, constantly testing new theories of who did what.

And such is self’s curiosity that she sometimes cannot wait to resume reading, she grabs the book (which is always in her tote) even if it only means reading a few paragraphs more.

She thinks her seatmate on the plane who much preferred Daniel Silva to Paula Hawkins was so, so wrong.

The Girl on the Train resembles The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime, another mystery that asks: Who did it?

The central character has some flaw that makes it difficult for her/him to be taken seriously. In TCIOTDITN, it’s the narrator’s Aspergers. Here, it’s the fact that Rachel is alcoholic and depressed and given to mood swings. Yet, they doggedly persist in their “investigations.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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