Posts Tagged ‘Paula Hawkins’

Just the book for a scary night in with cocoa and biscuits

Just the book for a scary night in with cocoa and biscuits

I read Paula Hawkins’s debut novel The Girl on the Train after hearing about its international success back in February this year and its rave reviews. Described as the English follow up to Gone Girl, it remained in the New York Times Fiction Best sellers list for 13 consecutive weeks and Dreamworks are making it into a film (possibly starring Emily Blunt). I was eager to know what all the fuss was about. Was it as good as people said?

I loved the opening. Girl on train looks out of window on her regular commute to work and imagines what the people who live in the houses she passes are like. Something I’ve done myself and I’m sure many other readers have too.

The story is told from the viewpoint of Rachel, the girl on the train, and reads like a diary entry, alternating with Megan, the girl who lives in the house Rachel watches and where she herself lived until her marriage broke up. We get to understand Rachel’s sadness and frustration with her current life. Megan’s seems so much more exciting with her handsome partner, often seen by Rachel drinking wine and smooching in the garden that used to be hers.

Both Rachel and Megan have unlikable thoughts and behavior. Rachel drinks too much and often forgets what she’s said and done. A characteristic that becomes more important as the plot develops. Megan has a guilty secret and seems unable to commit to a relationship.

The chapters of ‘The Girl on the Train’ are short and compelling. The alternate point of view and uneven timelines work well, adding to the tension as Rachel gets more caught up in Megan’s life and as a reader you wonder just how much you can trust her. The characters are extremely well drawn, especially the women, and the red herrings are skillfully placed. Overall this really is a satisfying read and I can’t wait to see how the film version pans out.

Theakston's Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival 13

Agent Jane Gregory and friends at the Theakstons Old Peculiar Crimefest

It’s two years since I’ve been to Harrogate for the crime writing celebratory bonanza and four since I braved the Dragons’ Pen initiation of terror for would-be crime writers. But the heightened sense of adrenelin is just the same and I was sorry I could only stay for one day.

Still, there was plenty of time to have fun and experience some great moments like:

  • Mingling with authors, agents and publishers at the first Dead Good Reader Awards. I won two new books and my favourite book of the year, The Girl on the Train, was voted the most recommended book. As a fan of Ann Cleeves crime books, I was delighted to see Brenda Blethyn accompany her to collect their award when Vera was voted the best detective.
  • Meeting Sarah Hilary after her brilliant debut novel, Someone Else’s Skin won the Crime Novel of the Year Award. I met her last year at The Agatha Christie Festival where she was giving one of the best writing workshops I’ve attended. She’s still just as lovely and very much deserves her success.
  • The Perfect Match panel, Isabelle Grey, Stewart Bain, Anya Lipska, James Oswald

    The Perfect Match panel, Isabelle Grey, Stewart Bain, Anya Lipska, James Oswald

    Finding out how to identify books to make your heart sing at ‘The Perfect Match’ panel consisting of authors and Orkney librarian, Stewart Bain. It was entertaining and amusing and I learnt that very cheap or free books increase sales and writers revenues; most readers on Amazon already know what books they want to buy; covers count and readers of crime novels want to solve puzzles and expect to find an early murder.

  • Enjoying the interchange between author and critic, NJ Cooper and Stig Larsson’s publisher and editor about gender issues and sensitivity arising from The Millennium Trilogy in advance of the release of ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web‘ the new Lizabeth Salander sequel by David Lagercrantz on the 27th of August. With regard to the rape scene, the editor, Eve Gedlin was asked ‘Was Blonquist too important to bother with his women’s emotions?’ She didn’t think he was but it will be interesting to see how Lizabeth’s emotions are treated in ‘The Girl in the Spider’s Web’.