Maybe it was the title. Maybe it was the background colors. Maybe it was the way the title appeared in a doubled, hurried font. I can’t explain it, but I kept seeing this book’s cover and I couldn’t get it out of my mind.
It’s strange, isn’t it? The artwork, such as it is, is mostly just words. Lettering. There’s the suggestion of landscape—a darkening blue sky, a blurr of trees, a dark mass of land, and perhaps at the bottom, train tracks—but that’s all smeared behind the book’s title. What could be so compelling?
Maybe it was the hint of the train ride (you know how I am about trains)? The view through the window as we speed by an unfamiliar landscape. Maybe it gave me an impression of summer adventure where all you have is the pack on your back and a train ticket in your hand.
It niggled at me. I’d see it on a bookshop shelf or in an article about current books, or on a website and I’d wonder about it. I didn’t know anything about the story or its author. I felt somewhat annoyed by its insistence, but I couldn’t get it out of my head.
Eventually, I succumbed to its come-hither whispers and went looking for it at our local bookshop. I couldn’t remember the author, so I scanned the shelves in the fiction section knowing it would make itself known. But it didn’t.
I turned to my right, my eyes flew across the “Mystery” shelves and there it was, smirking at me.
A mystery. Why was I surprised?
I bought it knowing nothing more about it than its cover, its title, and its price. I took it home, set it on the counter, and let it simmer there for a bit. It was no less beguiling in my own home.
I read a few pages to get a taste, and I rapidly fell into its charms: a summer page-turner with enough spine-tingly mystery to make you want to stay up late to find out what happens next.
I immediately distrusted the narrator. I knew exactly what sort of ride I was in for, and I couldn’t put it down.
It’s a story narrated by multiple, perhaps unreliable characters. It’s about knowing versus imagining. Fiction and non-fiction. It’s about glimpses and what you know and what you don’t know and what happens when you observe the world from the speed of a train. Or what happens when the speed of your own life insects the speed of another’s.
The Girl on the Train is not my usual type of book, and I doubt I would have picked it up if not for the cover, but I’m glad I read it, and I give full credit to the cover’s designer, who knows about the seductive power of a speeding train, the glimpse of a blurry landscape through a window, and a book in your hand as the train gallops down the tracks.
Our books for month 7:
- H ~ Stone Mattress, by Margaret Atwood, because of the crow
- M ~ Cold Comfort Farm, by Stella Gibbons, because of Roz Chast
- R ~ The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, because… see above
We’d love to know what you read this month. Please leave a comment telling us about it!
The category for the coming month is:
We’ll see you back here on September 11!
This post is part of our multi-year reading challenge. We’d love to have you join us for the whole challenge or any portion. Take a look at the checklist to see the current category (in green). We’ll announce the next category on the 11th of each month.