Book Club Discussion: The Girl on the Train.

I hope you had a wonderful weekend. It’s time for April’s book discussion for the Bookish Bloggers Book Club! Please respond to any of the questions below and add your own in the comments section of this post.

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I excerpted an overview of The Girl on the Train from Amazon in my introductory post:

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. 

{Image via Amazon}

Q&A Discussion

 1) What was your first impression of Rachel? How did that change throughout the book?

I sympathized with Rachel at the beginning of this book as it was obvious she had been through some very dark days – the end of her marriage, alcohol dependency, infertility issues, and losing her job. However, as the story unraveled further I found myself asking whether Rachel could have been somehow responsible for Megan’s disappearance. Rachel become obsessed with the story of Megan’s disappearance and was endlessly confused by her own memory losses.

2) What would you have done if you would have seen the things Rachel saw from the train window?

It’s hard to put myself in those shoes since Rachel’s perspective included many complicated factors – she used to live on the same street as Megan, she was envious of Megan’s seemingly healthy marriage, and she rode the train to and from London every day for comfort instead of necessity since she had lost her job and was hiding that fact from her roommate. The train meant much more to Rachel than it does to the average commuter. I don’t think I would have noticed the same details that Rachel noticed had I been a passenger on the same train.

3) How does motherhood and the expectations surrounding it impact this story?

Motherhood played a strong role in the story of many women in this book. I think the author was trying to portray the impact motherhood {or lack thereof} has on women. It was an important sub-plot since the story is told from Rachel, Anna, and Megan’s perspective:

  • Rachel felt like a failure for experiencing infertility, which seemed to lead to the destruction of her marriage and her dependency on alcohol.
  • Anna was a mother to a young child, however is portrayed by the author as being somewhat detached. This is especially apparent when Megan is hired briefly to watch Anna and Tom’s baby so that Anna can rest. 
  • Megan did not seem to want children of her own, however readers are shocked {at least I was} to find out that Megan was expecting a baby at the time of her disappearance.

4) What did you think of Rachel’s frequent memory losses due to alcohol? Did you find yourself trying to ‘fill in the blanks’ for her as the story progressed? Did you think Rachel’s memory observations were reliable?

Rachel’s memory loss played a very important role in this story. It impacted my questioning of whether Rachel was an innocent party in Megan’s disappearance. I was confused by some of the memories Rachel had lost, and I did try to fill them in {without luck, until more details were revealed at the end of the story}. The memories I thought about the most were first, why was Rachel in the underpass in the first place? Second, what caused her to feel negative feelings whenever she walked through that area after Megan disappeared? I wasn’t sure whether Rachel’s memories were reliable until the end, when Rachel realized she had seen Megan get into the car with Tom on the fateful night, instead of Anna as she originally thought.

5) This is a classic ‘who done it’ murder story. Did you see the twist coming regarding Rachel’s ex-husband Tom being responsible for Megan’s murder? When did you think something might be ‘off’ about Tom? Were you surprised by the end of the story?

I pinpointed Tom as the murderer only when Rachel realizes her memory of being on the stairs involving a baseball bat was about Tom hurting her, instead of the other way around. That was an ‘aha’ moment for me in this book. Up until that point, I thought either Rachel or Megan’s therapist had to be the culprit in her disappearance. I was quite surprised by this plot twist!

Readers: What did you think of this book? Do you have any additional questions or observations to add? Let’s discuss in the comments!

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