In the novel, The Girl on the Train, trainrider Rachel Watson catches daily glimpses of a seemingly perfect couple, Scott and Megan, from the window of her train. One day, Rachel witnesses something shocking occur in the backyard of the couple’s home and tells the authorities what she believes to have seen after learning that Megan is now missing and believed dead. Rachel, a clearly damaged character, drinks alcohol as if it were water. When the crime occurs, it hits close to home, as it involves the couple she is so thoroughly invested in. Unable to trust her own drunken memory, Rachel begins investigating on her own, while police begin to suspect that Rachel may have crossed a line which she can no longer go back over.
This book highlighted a world of alcohol abuse and murder and displayed that while the life of an alcoholic can be characterized by memory loss and incapacitation, there is often a driving force which puts an individual at that point. Rachel clearly has a desire to help solve the murder, but her alcohol abuse has invaded her life and destroyed any ability to successfully complete regular tasks, let alone solving a crime case. After a drunken blackout in an underpass, Rachel’s recollection of the night disappears. Her roommate, Cathy, disapproves of Rachel’s rampant alcoholism, and becomes frustrated with her upon the discovery that Rachel lost her job several months ago. Every single train ride, within which she watches the couple longingly to and from London are just her pretending that she still has a job in the city. Rachel is unable to get over her failed marriage and oftentimes bothers Tom and Anna, her ex husband and his new wife, who live just a few houses away from Scott and Megan.
Rachel’s behavior in this story is sad, clingy, and slightly pathetic, but it provides a concrete and lucid explanation for her drinking problem. Anna, the woman whom of which Tom had an affair with while married to Rachel, resents Rachel and wants her out of both of their lives. She was not very fond of Megan either, who babysat for her and Tom for a short period of time. When Megan and Tom become involved, Anna’s disappearance is no surprise to the reader, especially considering Tom’s history with his disposable women. The story essentially is a glimpse into the life of a woman who in a desperate attempt to remember anything about the questionable night is willing to go any length to solve the crime. While readers attempt to piece together the disappearance of Megan, Rachel is clearly grasping to find just any part of herself that has not been drowned in alcohol. Despite alcoholism, ruined relationships, and murder, Rachel and Anna eventually both come together and display the strength and courage of women scorned, as well as the power of unity in a common goal.