We all enjoy a good snoop, don’t we? Looking into other people’s houses and imagining how their lives are or have been. Hawkins builds on this universal human trait and transforms it into a best-selling thriller. The novel starts with Rachel, the intriguing narrator, staring from the train on her daily commute to London; Hawkins creates a seemingly normal commuter, but beneath her facade lies an utterly lonely woman plagued by the memories of her surroundings.
Riddled within Rachel’s narration, Hawkins cleverly incorporates subtle clues showing that all is not what it seems in this British suburb. Rachel takes a particular interest in a small Victorian terrace backing on to the train track. Rachel imagines the life of ‘Jason and Jess,’ her golden couple: she imagines all of the perfect times they share together, the times she had shared in the house down the street with her ex-husband Tom. In reality, Rachel is a hopeless alcoholic who is still infatuated with Tom and determined to ruin his relationship with new wife Anna. She then becomes thrown back into her old life when she witnesses something strange at her golden couple’s home. Jess, or Megan as she is actually known, goes missing.
The factor that makes this book so intriguing is the structure, believe it or not. The narratives of all the important women, Rachel, Megan and Anna are morphed together to make up the chapters of the novel. The way Hawkins does this allows the reader to visualise and imagine each characters’ perspectives of the storyline much more, but what makes it so compelling and much more worthy of appreciation is that she has created such diverse characters with opposing opinions and ideologies and has varied her writing style to suit, which is not the easiest thing in the world to accomplish and to accomplish so elegantly.
Hawkins has struck literature gold with her skillful take on an amnesiac thriller from her clever and easy writing style to her relatable characters. This is definitely one of the best books I have read this year and is worth a read. I know one thing for sure, other writers better raise their game.
Words by Joe