What is an ideal female? In some cultures, the ideal female stays quiet and covers her mouth when she talks. In other cultures, the ideal female moves with grace and is very neat. As they delve into Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train, readers should abandon any and all notions that they may have regarding how girls and women should behave. This gripping novel redefines the ideal female and challenges beliefs that many readers hold. Additionally, the novel offers eye-opening insights into the reality of mental illness.
What is The Girl on the Train about?
It is nearly impossible to provide a comprehensive overview that fully captures the essence of The Girl on the Train. However, a brief summary helps to prepare readers for this novel. The book is about three women: Rachel, Anna, and Megan. Initially, these women’s lives are separate and apart. However, as the story unfolds, their paths begin to intersect. Hawkins reveals that Anna is married to Tom, Rachel’s former husband. On the other hand, Megan who lives in the same neighborhood with Tom and Anna is shown to be having an affair with Tom.
One would be hard pressed to summarize The Girl on the Train without spoiling it for those who are yet to read the novel. What these readers need to understand is that the book explores such issues as betrayal, love, envy, and the ugliness of married life. Its examination of these issues makes the novel remarkably deep and insightful. For more details on the plot of the book, it is best for readers to pick up a copy.
Messages to brace for
As opposed to similar novels which leave no impact on their readers, The Girl on the Train strives to ensure that readers will be affected in some way. The novel confronts various messages and themes. Among these issues are mental illness and the failure by society to safeguard the wellbeing of those ailing from these illnesses. Rachel represents these individuals and through its focus on her struggles, the book offers readers an insider look into the reality of mental disorders.
Another message that The Girl on the Train shares is that marriage is not as it seems. Readers are able to understand that in many cases, married couples who seem happy and fulfilled are indeed miserable. For example, initially, Rachel envies Megan, believing that her marriage is blissful. However, through her conversations with other characters in the novel, she gathers that Megan actually endured hardship in her marriage. In fact, these hardships forced her into infidelity and her eventual death. Hawkins clearly sought to encourage her readers to celebrate their relationships instead of envying what others have.
Why The Girl on the Train is worth a read?
Tackling the Complexity of Femininity
The fact that is shows that femininity is complex is one of the many reasons why readers should spend as much time as possible with The Girl on the Train. The book provides various perspectives regarding womanhood by presenting three different women. While one of these women is a filthy and hopeless drunk with a history of mental health problems, another woman is in what appears to be in a happy marriage. The different women are clear evidence that femininity exists in a variety of forms.
The novel further sheds light on the complexity of womanhood by staying silent on the ideal type of woman. For example, despite struggling with alcoholism, Rachel is not rebuked. Instead, she is portrayed as a woman who manages to overcome her struggles. On the other hand, Anna who appears to be in a loving and fulfilling relationship turns out to be a victim of marital unfaithfulness. The multi-faceted nature of these women is clearly intended to show that there is no single perspective that captures the full range of femininity. Each female is unique.
Asking readers to dismiss society’s standards and demands
Women are among those who are highly likely to be drawn to Hawkins’ book. The book appeals to women because it depicts their experiences. More importantly, it encourages them to defy society’s stipulations are remain true to their identity. For example, despite being an unattractive weak, spiteful, and sad woman, Rachel is still placed at the center of the novel. There is no dispute that by having her as among the main characters, Hawkins set out to dismiss society’s notions, standards, and stipulations. Her book celebrates even the ugliest and saddest women.
Suggesting that disregarding society’s demands holds the key to fulfillment is another way that Hawkins manages to elevate her book to a platform from which it can find mass appeal. Hawkins shares that it was after Rachel uncovered how Tom had fed her lies about her behavior while drunk that she became empowered and began the journey toward sobriety. Rachel speaks for the millions of women around the world who are under pressure to conform to traditional standards. To find liberation, these women should join Rachel in disobeying and revolting.
Expertly combining drama with sobering insights
The fact that Hawkins successfully incorporates drama and real insights into her novel is yet another reason why it is fairly easy to endorse and recommend the novel. She uses fictional characters to provide lessons on such issues as mental illness and the place of women in the society of today. This novel will enrich readers looking for entertainment as well as those wishing to engage with a book that is substantial and serious.
Hawkins is no slave to society’s expectations. Like Rachel, she defies and makes up her own mind. Her free thinking can be seen in the numerous perspectives for which she creates room in the universe that she established in the novel. She provides multiple voices and spirits. The breadth and variety of her universe will certainly help to expand the size of the audience that the novel will attract. Other authors looking to build their appeal should borrow lessons from Hawkins. They should particularly be bold enough to experiment by being defiant instead of relying on outdated approaches that have lost their relevance and are unlikely to woo audiences.
This is why The Girl on the Train is not for everyone
The Girl on the Train is not perfect. There are some shortcomings that could see it lose the interest of many readers. One of these limitations is that the novel has too many plot twists. Some of the events that are included in the novel are simply implausible and divorced from reality. Moreover, it takes too long for the novel to introduce the drama. It would not be surprising if readers put the book down before they have encountered the many characters and developments that make the book interesting.
Even with the flaws highlighted above, The Girl on the Train remains an interesting novel. The novel is particularly timely as it confronts issues that the world faces today. For example, it addresses the hardships that women faces as they try to hold on to their identities in a world that is becoming increasingly hostile and aggressive in its push for conformity. The novel receives a resounding endorsement.