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The Girl on the Wrong Trainline

October 17, 2016

I read the Girl on the Train in hospital, while dipping in and out of general anaesthetics, and I got hopelessly lost with all its shifts in place and perspective. I know that was the whole point of the book, but it left me underwhelmed at the time. So I wasn’t sure whether to see the film, but I was persuaded.

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At first, I was disappointed. Gone was the daggy south London railway line that I know and love (or had imagined, I have a feeling that it might originally have been set in north London). There is even a bit of track near us where you get an unimpeded glimpse at the backs of some quite nice houses which seemed as if it could have been the real backdrop for the novel. But no, the action now has been transplanted to New York, with very gorgeous homes on one side and a huge expanse of water (the Hudson Bay?) on the other. This is akin to taking the novel from Catford to Kensington, but hey ho. The film plays on the irresistibility of catching sight of other people’s lives, whether they are rich or not. And some of the important scenes under a railway arch were authentically gritty and confused.

There’s no doubt that it’s a very clever idea for a book or a film, and the end is satisfying. Go and see it, but check out the line from London to Dartford if you want a slice of real life. Just don’t look at my house.

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  • little red hen October 17, 2016 at 4:38 pm

    The Hudson River maybe? Hudson Bay is in Ontario, Canada. I read the book on my holidays this year. I’m undecided if I’m going to see the movie; I know who did it so the suspense part is gone and I’m not sure why they would change the setting.

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 28, 2016 at 1:10 pm

      I’m so embarrassed that I got the wrong Hudson – quite dramatically wrong! Sorry everyone in the US and Canada. Yes, knowing who did it could be a problem, needless to say I had completely forgotten!

  • Addy October 17, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    I read the book while convalescing after my op and thoroughly enjoyed it. I often like to stare out at the houses on the railway line as I pass by and could just imagine the scene. But like you, I imagined the Victoria-Kent line. It wouldn’t seem right set in America and, if I recall rightly, the book was set on a line out of North London. No, that would definitely not do it for me.

  • Lindy October 17, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Meh! I didn’t really like the book. Not sure if I want to see the film.

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 28, 2016 at 1:11 pm

      Hmm I’m trying to think of a clincher which might make you want to see it – but I can’t which says it all!

  • Emma Kaufmann October 18, 2016 at 12:20 pm

    The book was very tedious….wish I had read it under general aesthetic. No idea how it got published apart from they were looking for the next Gone Girl. It was told from three women’s POV …each voice identical. Nothing happens in the book apart from protagonist blacks out. Will take a pass on the film.

    • Dulwich Divorcee October 21, 2016 at 12:45 pm

      I definitely know what you mean! The film makes sense of some of it … and is fine as long as you don’t mind the huge shift in perspective from downtrodden sarf lunnen suburbs to upscale New York …