I discovered this book whilst scrolling down the Kindle Bestsellers list, but first dismissed it as a ‘rip off’ of the Hawkins novel that I read, and was incredibly disappointed in, earlier this year. However, after some research, I learned that it was actually a completely separate narrative, and people generally thought well of it. I bought it with some reservations (after all, people had raved about The Girl on The Train and I could barely bring myself to finish it), but it did promise an unpredictable twist and I wanted to give it a chance.
At first I was not blown away. My first impression was that the writing style did ressemble that of Hawkins, of which I was not a fan However, the saving grace in this case was that the book took a mere few pages to get into the action, which meant I quickly became interested in the narrative. I didn’t need pages to get to know the character and why she was there at that point etc. , I just wanted to get on with the story. My favourite was to learn about characters is through their reactions to other people and certain situations, as that is how we tend to get to know people in real life.
I liked how Anna, the protagonist, gets involved in the story through more than simply self-interestedness or being a busy-body. Her husband’s own suicide ( if that’s what it was) is what pushes her to clear Elly’s name from suicide, too. I like how, for the majority of the narrative, we are led on the quest to discover the clues Elly left behind, rather that being tricked into believing lots of red-herrings. This means that when the twist does come, it definitely is unexpected- and impossible to see coming (my favourite kind of twist!). And even though that initial twist isn’t the final conclusion, it very quickly leads Anna (and the reader) to find out the truth, which is even more shocking and unpredictable. Having said that, though, I did have some reservations about the credibility of the final result, even though it wouldn’t be completely impossible…
The book’s narrative is split into three sections: two of which are told from Anna’s perspective, and the middle told from Elly’s. I understand what Waines’ intentions were with this: to allow Elly’s voice to enter the story, even after she has died. However, in reality it didn’t really add much to the story- especially because it was only a short section of the longer narrative. What it does reveal is her thinking behind leaving the clues, which gives Anna’s predictions more credibility, but I would say that this is where its usefulness ends.
The narrative conclusion is satisfying, in the way that it ends in the way you hope, even though there are points at which it seems it won’t. However, it does leave some unanswered questions with regards to parts of the narrative that aren’t directly concerned with Elly- but perhaps that is the point? And in spite of these unanswered questions, I definitely feel that those other aspects of the narrative that branch away from Elly’s death are important, as they give the characters some depth and explain their motivations.
To conclude, I would thoroughly recommend A J Waines’, Girl on a Train. Whether you enjoyed the similarly named Hawkins novel or not, there is definitely something to take from this one!