The Girl on the Train

I came across a comment thread on The Girl on the Train and was astonished by the vitriolic comments, because I loved this book. I listened to the recorded version* and enjoyed the voices for the different narrators. This book is a mystery, but for me it is driven by character rather than plot. Our main character is Rachel, a divorced alcoholic who watches out the train window on her daily commute to the city, naming and making up life stories for the people she sees every day. Listening to her struggle through life gave me a new level of compassion for addicts, myself included (sugar, diet soda, love, and books, if you must know). One of the women she watches is Megan Hipwell, who disappears one night. Rachel goes to the police with what she thinks she knows and becomes ever more involved with the investigation, as well as with Megan’s husband, Scott.
The third narrator (besides Rachel and Megan) is Anna, the second wife of Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom. Anna hates Rachel and wants her out of their lives. Again, hearing the story through Megan’s voice makes us feel her pain at having lost Tom and her helplessness to pull out of her addiction.
Because this is a mystery, I don’t want to comment much about the plot. As in life, things are not always as they seem; at times I doubted Rachel’s trustworthiness as narrator. The climax is dramatic; for me it was unexpected and redemptive.
A movie based on the book was released last weekend. I meant to post this last week to give you a week to read the book before seeing the movie. I cannot imagine a movie portraying Rachel’s inner life in the detail we need to understand her. So read fast and let me know how the movie was if you see it. Please don’t judge this book by the movie. I loved this book!
*Recent research shows that reading with your ears reaps most of the benefits of reading with your eyes, so listening to a book counts as reading (in my book, haha).



Library Love

I was tired yesterday and didn’t have the strength to resist the pull of the library when I drove past (maybe not EXACTLY past, but it was a strong pull). So this is the result. The Books that Changed My Life (Bethany Patrick), Love Warrior (Glennon Doyle Melton), 32 Yolks (Eric Ripert), Sixpence House (Paul Collins), Speaking of Books (Rob Kaplan and Harold Rabinowitz), and The Man Who Loved Books Too Much (Allison Hoover Bartlett). I am sensing a books-about-books theme here.


From time to time I am asked what my favorite book is and I tend to answer (drum roll) Rebecca, by Daphne du Maurier. I love the characters, the setting, and the gothic plot, and I read it almost every year. Recently I listened to it on a long car trip and still had a few chapters to go when I got home so I found my copy and finished it before I even unpacked. I may have taken my coat off first, but I couldn’t swear to it.

I love Mrs. de Winter, who famously is never identified by her first name. (I can relate to that, having often been referred to as Betsey’s sister or Frank’s wife.) Her anonymity helps us slip into her skin as her voice tells her story. She seems initially almost characterless, with mousy hair (how unkind), social awkwardness and lack of resistance to being bullied by the woman she serves as paid companion. When she is swept off her feet by the glamorous Maxim, we thrill vicariously to her Cinderella story. As she settles in to life as the second Mrs. de Winter she seems not even to think of herself as an individual with a name, but as a cog in the machinery of Manderley.

We gradually sense that things are not as they should be for Mrs. de Winter, as she attempts to settle into a home and life where she does not seem welcome. This brings us to the evil Mrs. Danvers, one of the great literary villains of the 20th century. I love to hate her. This story is a mystery, but so beautifully written I love reading it again and again, in spite of knowing how things are going to turn out.

I first discovered Rebecca by seeing the 1979 version with Jeremy Brett, which is (fanfare! cymbals!) finally available on dvd. The Hitchcock version is wonderful too, perfectly expressing the innocence of our heroine and the growing horror as things spiral out of control for her. I am not a fan of the Diana Rigg version.

Read it. Read it again if you already have. It is that good.



Welcome to my world



Welcome to the inside of my head. Having journaled my books for years just for my own pleasure, I thought if I dipped my toe into the wordpress community I might meet other book-obsessed souls like myself. I grew up reading sci fi since that was what was in the house and did not branch out to other genres until after I was married. In my husband’s record collection was Wuthering Heights on a Kate Bush album-‘ Heathcliffe, it’s me, it’s Kathy’ was so compelling I had to read the book to find out what the deal was. Huge epiphany- there is a reason the classics are considered classic- they’re good books! Seems obvious, but I was late to that party. Brit Lit is my favorite but now I love lots of things- literary fiction, memoir, popular science, self help. spiritual. I have other loves in my life but books trump them all except family.