As many of you know, this book is about to be made into a movie starring Emily Blunt, so of course I wanted to read and review it before I saw the movie!
Rachel Watson’s life is unravelling since her marriage to her ex-husband Tom ended. Rachel lives with her roommate Cathy, a friend who took her in when she had no place else to go. The only place Rachel finds solace is in alcohol, and her habit is getting increasingly worse and her behavior becomes dangerously self-destructive. It began when she became depressed after being unable to have a child with Tom, and as it escalated Tom began to cheat on her with Anna, who he married after divorcing Rachel and the couple now has a baby girl together. Rachel’s drinking has become such a problem that it caused her to lose her job, but she is afraid to tell Cathy, so she continues to ride the train to and from London each day as she would when she was working so Cathy doesn’t become suspicious. Each day, she passes the old house she shared with Tom and the house of a young couple who she idealizes in her head when she sees them together from her vantage point on the train and fantasizes about their perfect life together.
In reality, the young couple are Megan and Scott Hipwell, who aren’t nearly as happy together as Rachel believes they are. Megan’s troubled past leads her to seek help from a therapist, Kamal Abdic, whom she becomes attracted to and begins an affair. Also unbeknownst to Rachel, Megan actually begins to work for Tom and Anna to help care for their child. However, Megan grows weary of the job and having Anna in the house all the time hovering over her as she cares for the child and suddenly quits.
While riding the train one day, Rachel sees Megan kissing another man. She is shocked and appalled, having built up such a perfect idea of Megan and her husband.
After a night of particularly hard drinking, Rachel wakes up in her bed with blood on her hands and injuries but has no memory of the night before. She has no idea how she has come to receive the injuries or what she did, but she knows she must have done something awful and shameful.
Rachel soon finds out that the woman she saw kissing a man other than her husband from the train is Megan, and she has gone missing. Soon after, Rachel is brought in for questioning because the police were told she was seen in the area that night heavily intoxicated. She struggles to remember anything from that night, but she tells the cops about her seeing Megan kissing another man. They are reluctant to believe her because of her being an unreliable witness due to her heavy drinking, but they follow the lead anyway and discover the man she was kissing was the therapist Megan had begun seeing, Dr. Abdic.
Rachel is also secretly worried she may have done something to Megan herself since the night she disappeared was also the night she sustained the injuries and woke up with blood on her hands. She begins to try and investigate what happened, and starts to talk to Megan’s husband, Scott. She lies to him, telling him she knew Megan from her work at the art gallery she once owned so she can get close to him. Soon after, Megan’s body is found and it is revealed she was pregnant but the baby was neither Scott nor Dr. Abdic’s. As memories of the night of Megan’s disappearance start to come back to Rachel, things begin to spiral out of control and she begins to fear for her safety and the stakes are higher than ever.
This book was a great read, and the alternating narrators of Rachel, Anna, and Megan give it an interesting perspective. A lot of reviews I’ve read of the book compared it to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, but other than being a mystery/thriller, I don’t think they’re much alike. I would liken it to more of a Mary Higgins Clark type mystery instead. It’s definitely a page-turner, but it has a slow start. If you enjoy this genre, then I definitely recommend this book. I also hope the movie does the story justice, because nothing is more disappointing than seeing a good book turned into a mediocre movie.