The Girl On The Train
by Paula Hawkins
A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
A compulsively readable, emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller that draws comparisons to Gone Girl, The Silent Wife, or Before I Go to Sleep, this is an electrifying debut embraced by readers across markets and categories.
I was wary of this book, or rather I was wary of the hype surrounding it. After the disastrous Apple Tree Yard (separate review on my blog) which I looked forward to but found hugely disappointing, I bore no expectations for The Girl On The Train, infact, if I’m honest, was probably ready to dislike it.
The book has at its heart three female characters:
The main protagonist is Rachel, whose life is at an all time low. Her marriage has broken down, she has lost her job, she is very lonely and to compensate she drinks; heavily.
I really empathised with Rachel, I am sure a lot of people will see her as weak and foolish but to me she just came across as human; flawed but with a good heart.
Next there is Megan, who also has had a troubled life but has now found happiness with husband Scott…or so Rachel thinks.
Then there is Anna, who is the Goldilocks in Rachel’s life. She lives in her house, sleeps in her bed and no doubt eats porridge in her kitchen. All with her ex-husband and the baby daughter they have had together.
Rachel travels into London everyday on the train. The train stops regularly at a set of signals and she gets used to seeing a couple on their terrace. She makes up blissful lives for them, giving them names, Jason and Jess, and careers. She looks on enviously until one day she sees something that casts everything into doubt. Rachel feels that she needs to help out, it gives her life some purpose, but also leads to trouble.
It is difficult to say anymore without giving the plot away.
So does the book live up to the hype? For me, a big fat yes. Paula Hawkins has written a compelling, suspenseful book in which I thought the characters were very human. It makes you look at relationships and realise sometimes nothing is what it seems and people really do weave tangled webs for themselves. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will look forward to future books from this author.