I finished The Girl on the Train Friday. Plot focuses on Rachel who travels by train, looks into yards and windows, and vicariously imagines others' lives until one day she sees a scene that disturbs her fantasy. A woman then goes missing. Subsequently Rachel insinuates herself into the investigation while simultaneously harassing her ex-husband and his new wife. I listened to Girl on Audible every chance I had, often in the car, right to the last word. I was obsessively into it -- even as I had guessed some of the outcome earlier.
And whether or not one liked the narrator, Rachel, and thus liked or didn't like the book. Not a concern for me. Before I knew this was even an issue the book provoked for some, a friend at work said she loved Rachel. I was taken aback. I didn't love her -- hadn't even thought of liking/disliking , let alone loving/hating her -- and had to think about what I felt. Kind of indifferent although I would not want her as a roommate, friend, ex or ex of current partner. Sure of that.
What struck me was how boozy the book is. Rachel cannot not buy those two bottles of wine, not covet her tins of gin or hide alcohol from her roommate. The descriptions of her drunkeness, the messes she makes, the blackouts she endures, and the shame she feels and the very, very bad decisions she makes over and over again transform her for me from the girl on the train, to the train wreck herself. She may be rubbernecking (as the police describe her actions), but so am I. I'm vicariously witnessing a disaster in the making with each section listen to. And like an observer who has stumbled on the scene, I'm a bit numbed, but also fascinated.
That said, the book this most strongly evokes for me is not Gone Girl, (as it has been compared to) but rather a much older book, Hangover Square by Patrick Hamilton. Hamilton is better known as the author of Gaslight, another book this loosely calls up. Hangover Square was also booze-filled and full of poor decisions of a different kind. It takes place in London on the cusp of World War II and the characters reflect the unsettled politics of its time. When I finished that book, I thought of it for days -- haunted. Not so with Train Wreck Girl.
The later thriller is but filler. Great for passing time. While you're going someplace else.
Other notes: Rereading Cloud Atlas; Loaded Stephen King's Revival from Audible on to listen to on Kindle.