The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins – A Review

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The Girl on the Train

SUMMARY – (From Goodreads) 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?


“There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.” ― Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train

Have you ever had a memory that is just beyond your reach? Where you have hints of a name or a face or maybe even a smell, but you can’t quite remember where you know it from? It can be annoying, as your mind turns the glimmer of something bigger over and over again, until hopefully you get your “Eureka!” moment and the full recollection comes back to you. But what if it doesn’t come back? What if you are constantly plagued with knowing that there’s more to the story?

TGOTTNow try living like that day in and day out and knowing somewhere deep down in the recesses of your mind that hint of a memory is the answer to something big. Perhaps, that memory is the missing piece to solving a violent crime. Maybe, it’s the very thing that will save your own life. Welcome to Rachel Watson’s life.

The Girl on the Train, is the story of Rachel Watson, who everyday travels by train into London. Each day she passes the same houses, and eventually she makes up a “happily-ever-after” story about a couple that she sees regularly as the train passes by their house. Rachel is going through a particularly rough time in her life and by creating a hopeful narrative for this couple that she does not know, she is able to lose herself a little and forget about her troubles. This little bit of escapism doesn’t last forever, because soon into the story, a violent act is committed and Rachel finds herself compelled to discover how and why it happened. This becomes more urgent when she realizes that she may have witnessed something crucial that could help solve the crime, but she can’t remember. Rachel can’t remember what happened to her on that fateful night because her other favorite pass time is to drown her sorrows by drinking herself into oblivion. As the story unfolds, we hear from other characters in the book that are connected to Rachel and we begin to understand the source of Rachel’s troubles. We also begin to get an inkling that Rachel has more of a role than she realizes in this unsolved mystery.

gone-girlBefore reading The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins, I saw lots of comparisons being made to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and to be honest, I was put off. When I was reading Gone Girl, I found myself hating both characters Nick and Amy Dunne, and felt that the two really did deserve one another.  This made reading the book difficult for me, and I certainly cannot say that I enjoyed the book. It was for this reason, when I saw continued references to Gone Girl, I didn’t pay The Girl On The Train much attention at first. But then I saw a comparison to Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson, and knew that I needed to give The Girl On The Train a chance. I’m so glad that I did!

BeforeIGoToSleepHawkins has written a fantastic thriller, which will keep you wondering just what happened right until the end. It was very much reminiscent of Before I Go To Sleep, a story about a woman with amnesia who is unable to make new memories and wakes up each day missing the last 20 years of her life. I remember feeling the same sense of anticipation about what will happen next when reading The Girl On The Train as I did when reading Before I Go To Sleep. As this is Hawkins debut novel, I was very impressed and I look forward to reading more stories from her.


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