Hey, babes! I hope you all have enjoyed our latest book club read, The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins! For those of you who joined us two weeks ago on the blog, I told you to read to the end of the book for our final discussion tonight. In my opinion (and I think you would agree), The Girl on the Train has lived up to its rave reviews and loyal following by readers. I thought that it was such a fun book to end the Summer with, especially after our more heavy book club read last time around. I think that this book has even gotten me back to my murder-mystery roots!
So, in proper #BabesWhoBookClub fashion, today I'm posting some discussion questions about the second half of the book to get the conversation going. Go ahead and take a peek below to see my questions and answers, and be sure to leave your answers in the comments. Now let’s get to it…
1. One of Rachel’s deepest disappointments, it turns out, is that she can’t have children. Her ex-husband Tom’s second wife Anna is the mother to a young child, Evie. How does Rachel’s inability to conceive precipitate her breakdown? How does the topic of motherhood drive the plot of the story? What do you think Paula Hawkins was trying to say about the ways motherhood can define women’s lives or what we expect from women’s domestic lives, whether as wives, mothers, or unmarried women in general?
2. Think about trust in The Girl on the Train. Who trusts whom? Who is deserving of trust? Is Rachel Watson a very trustworthy person? Why or why not? Who appears trustworthy and is actually not? What are the skills we use to make the decision about whether to trust someone we don’t know well?
3. Other characters in the novel make different assumptions about Rachel Watson depending on how or even where they see her. To a certain extent, she understands this and often tries to manipulate their assumptions—by appearing to be a commuter, for instance, going to work every day. Is she successful? To what degree did you make assumptions about Rachel early on based on the facts and appearances you were presented? How did those change over time and why? How did your assumptions about her affect your reading of the central mystery in the book? Did your assumptions about her change over its course? What other characters did you make assumptions about? How did your assumptions affect your interpretation of the plot? Having now finished The Girl on the Train, what surprised you the most?
1. I think that infertility can be such a devastating moment in a woman's life if she has imagined herself carrying her own child. I think that a large part of that disappointment has to do with the fact that society has placed such an importance on becoming pregnant and starting a family. Having the woman that Rachel's husband had an affair with become pregnant so quickly with his child played a huge part in Rachel's mental breakdown. Rachel expressed many times throughout the book that her depression and drinking habit began when Tom and her found out that they could not conceive on their own and could not afford any more IVF treatments. I think that she then blamed herself for her and Tom's divorce and used it as an excuse for why Tom cheated on her with Anna.
2. I think that this book messed with my head so much because the one person throughout the whole first part of the book that I trusted was really Tom (which is why it was an awesome plot twist). Both Rachel and Anna felt the same way which made it so difficult to see that he was the one behind Megan's murder. Before Rachel came to the realization that Tom had been lying to her and abusing her while she was blacked out, I think that she trusted him wholeheartedly. Personally, I think that the skills that we use to make the decision about whether to trust someone we don't know well is mainly based on our "gut feeling" or the person's body language and likability. I think that this book really showed how easy it is to trust to someone that can be potentially harmful (and even deadly), especially if they are good at manipulation.
3. Based on the context of the first half of the book, I found Rachel to be very desperate, depressed and, more or less, hopeless. I felt extremely bad for her because of her husband leaving her for another woman but, I also felt that there was a certain point where if she wasn't helping herself, she was truly never going to change. I also made assumptions about Anna, based on her dramatics and fears about Rachel. I felt that she was very dependent on Tom and that, essentially, she would do anything to keep him (which is why the last page of the book really shocked me).
What surprised me the most was that Tom was the killer, I had the impression that he was truly in love with Anna and was the victim in the situation with Rachel and her drunken and obsessive behavior. Seeing that scary and manipulative side of him in the end was really such a great twist to the book.
Now it's your turn to answer the discussion questions! Leave your responses in the comments below and feel free to get the conversation going with your fellow book club babes.
xo Anna Elizabeth
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