Any story told from multiple points of view will contain plenty of conflicting information. Imagined slights; misheard snippets; the brain’s impulse to compensate for inadequate data and knowledge. These are the constant underpinnings of human subjectivity. They are what give us agency but also isolate our experiences away from universality, producing experience that “is ringed round for each one of us by that thick wall of personality through which no real voice has ever pierced on its way to us, or from us to that which we can only conjecture to be without.”1
A precarious situation is this finding-ourselves-in-the-world. But now add further impediments: addiction, paranoia, trauma. The possibility of knowing oneself already reduced; the possibility of truly knowing someone else a dangerous illusion. Perhaps the most sincere are the most misleading. When faced with three unreliable narrators the mystery can transmute in an instant.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a thriller about what we think we saw, what we think we did. What we think we remember.
After all, what is a mystery book if not the archaeology of the surprising connections between ourselves and others that hide away from our own limited point-of-view.