Paula Hawkins does a great job giving us everything we need to know about our main character in first 3 pages of the novel, without using any clunky “as you know, Bob” exposition. She makes it look effortless!
By the time we finish reading these pages we know the following about Rachel:
- She’s a dreamer
- She’s a commuter on a train in London
- The train is unreliable and depressing (just like her! — dun dun DUN THEMES)
- The line she’s on connects two places named Ashbury and Euston
- She’s probably comforted by the sight of other people safe at home because she lacks security in her own life
- She’s divorced from a man named Tom and from the memories Rachel shares, it sounds like it was a good relationship, which really piques our interest, because how did she go from this awesome happy relationship to where she is now?
- She’s probably an alcoholic
- She dreading a weekend with absolutely nothing to do
That’s just good effective characterization!
I also love the second part of the book’s two-part preface. It’s so creepy and effective, with interesting fairy tale overtones: