Thursday, January 29, 2015

Paula Hawkins - The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the TrainThe Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel is climbing the best seller charts and is creating a lot of buzz. It is likely to be made into a movie as well. All this talk about the book made me order it right away.

The story is intriguing. Rachel is a mess. She got divorced two years ago when her husband, Tom, left her for another woman. She finds it hard to blame him for the divorce. She was a drunkard and out of control. Any man in his sane mind would be disgusted with her. Her drinking problem made her lose her job. She lives with a school friend, Cathy. She cannot afford to let Cathy know that she has lost her job, for the fear of being turned out of the room she rents in Cathy's flat.

So, she makes a daily trip to London on the train, keeping up a pretense of going to work. The problem is, the train stops at Witney station. This is where she used to live with Tom, and where Tom now lives with Anna, his new wife. She lives with the pain of passing by her old house every day. She finds herself fixating on another house close to hers, and often looking at a handsome young couple on their terrace.

Rachel makes up stories about this golden couple, and calls them Jess and Jason. She is convinced that they live an ideal life, full of love and laughter. Until one day when she discovers that the wife is missing. She catches the story in the papers and thinks she has a clue as to who killed her, from what she had seen on the terrace one day.

She goes to see the police, and tell them what she knows. She also falls back into obsessing about her ex-husband, and spirals more and more out of control, falling into an irreversible pattern of drinking.
She finds herself pursuing the mystery of the missing woman and getting more and more into a mess.

The story is told in the voices of three women, Rachel, Anna and Megan (the missing woman). The story draws you in immediately, and, despite its dark tone, you find it is hard to let it go.

The women dominate the novel, the voice and the opinion is all theirs. Even the police, who are investigating the mystery, seem to be rather subdued. If the women had not kept stirring the issue up with their actions, I am afraid, the mystery of missing Megan would have dwindled away in case files.

The book has been compared to Gillian Flynn's "Gone Girl". Both books are full of dark, damaged characters. But there is hardly any other resemblance. The Girl on the Train is definitely not a copycat novel. In fact, I liked it much more than "Gone Girl".

The novel moves at a steady pace. Two or three suspects are insinuated at so we may keep wondering about the culprit. I am afraid I kind of 'saw' who the villain was. But even so, it was hard to imagine the 'why' of the action.

The end was a lot more dark than I anticipated, and I went away from the book feeling rather depressed.

It was a satisfying read, and one I would surely recommend to all.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Vani - The Recession Groom

The Recession GroomThe Recession Groom by Vani
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Parshuraman Joshi is a Punjabi Brahmin with roots in Chandigarh. He studies and works in the USA. He is rather under the thumb of his bossy aunt, Parvati, who has nurtured him. He is 27, earning well and ripe for marriage.

His sister Ragini and aunt Parvati try to outdo each other in looking for a perfect girl for Parshuraman. Poor Parshuraman starts feeling more like a commodity than a person as eager Mamas with young daughters pursue him.

However, the book is not all about funny situations. Parshuraman faces real tragedy when he faces problem at work. He has to find out where his heart really is before he can make crucial decisions about work and love.

The characters in the story, especially, Aunt Parvati, her daughters Tia and Ana, Ragini, Parshuraman, Bill, Jennifer, Tara, Uncle Ravi are all believable people with quirks and foibles that make them very human. However, the character I fell absolutely in love with, was Parshuraman's Grandmother, his Nani. She is an irascible woman with a loving heart. She is more modern than any of her granddaughters.

Vani keeps the language of the book simple and clear. There are no linguistic shenanigans here to annoy you. Yes, there was a bit or two where the dialogue felt a bit labored and stiff, but it did not rankle.

The story keeps moving on effortlessly. There is no situation in the book that seems contrived. It is as if you really are witnessing a part of someone's life.

This is Vani's debut novel. Hard to believe that, she writes like a Pro.

Welcome to the world of writing, Vani. May your lovely novel meet all the success it deserves.

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