Let's get this out of the way from the start: The Girl on the Train is no Gone Girl. But if you liked the latter, I think you'll enjoy the former.
Rachel Watson is a divorced, unemployed alcoholic. Every day she rides the train into and out of London, passing her former marital home and trying not to peek at her ex-husband's new, happy life and family. She fantasizes about the couple who live a few doors down, giving them names, occupations and back stories.
One day, as Rachel ambles past on the train, she notices the neighbor woman, Megan, kissing a man who is not her husband. The next day, the woman goes missing.
Desperate for purpose, Rachel inserts herself into the investigation, convinced that her witnessing the kiss will provide some clue to hasten Megan's safe return.
But Rachel's credibility is shot, given her loner status, drinking and frequent blackouts. As Rachel strives to regain her memory of the night Megan disappeared, the reader begins to separate fact from fiction ahead of her.
The Girl on the Train offers a variety of perspectives; the chapters are narrated by different women in turn. There's Rachel, of course, but also Megan, and Anna, Rachel's ex's new wife. Leaps in time and point of view offer insights and red herrings.
Over at the Los Angeles Review of Books, Kim Kankiewicz writes about The Girl on the Train and points to Hawkins' "manipulation and ultimate subversion of the male gaze." Kankiewicz's analysis of the the power female narrators imbue on this novel is fascinating. I urge you to read it.
But back to my own review: This book is a quick one — perfect for the abundance of grey afternoons this time of year — but it keeps the reader on her toes, searching for clues to resolve the mystery before its characters do.
The Girl on the Train is chilling for a number of reasons, so ice cream was a natural way to bring it to life. I wanted to acknowledge Rachel's struggles with blackouts punctuated by brief moments of clarity. The mini white chocolate chips that stud this dark chocolate ice cream achieve just that; they demonstrate that tiny bright spots can shine and even cast away the darkness.
DARK CHOCOLATE-WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP ICE CREAM
For the ice cream:
- 2 cups milk
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 3 tablespoons whipped cream cheese
For the chocolate sauce:
- 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 cup brewed coffee (I used Batdorf)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
- 2/3 cup mini white chocolate chips
Make a slurry with 1/4 cup milk and the cornstarch; set aside.
In a medium pot, combine remaining milk, whipping cream, sugar, salt, and light corn syrup. Whisk, then heat over medium-high until mixture comes to a boil. Cook for about 4 minutes, then whisk in the cornstarch-milk slurry.
Return pot to a boil and cook two minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Place cream cheese in a bowl and pour 1/4 cup of the hot milk mixture over it. Whisk until contents of bowl are smooth, then whisk in the rest of the hot milk mixture.
In a small saucepan, bring sugar, cocoa and coffee to a boil, stirring occasionally. Cook for 30 seconds. Remove from heat and stir in chopped dark chocolate until melted.
Pour chocolate sauce from pot into ice cream base and stir until fully combined. Chill in fridge, preferably overnight.
Freeze ice cream in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer instructions. It usually takes me about 20 minutes total. When there are five minutes left, slowly pour in the mini white chocolate chips.
Transfer frozen goodness to a sealed container and freeze until set.