Book review: The Girl on the Train

Paula HawkinsThis book has been hyped much in the pre-publicity and I can understand why. After a slowish start, I finished it at a sprint and rarely put it down. The girl on the train in The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, is a voyeur, she watches people in their houses. On her morning commute, her train regularly stops at a red light and she looks at a house and ponders the perfect life of the people who live there. She is fantasising, you think, and then you realise she isn’t. She knows the people. Or does she?

You never know where you are with Rachel’s account of what happens, she is the ultimate unreliable narrator. The problem is she is a drunk, a falling-over, hungover woman who swigs alcohol on the train and suffers memory blackouts. At no point do you know whether to believe her version of the truth. She says, “I wonder where it started, my decline; I wonder at what point I could have halted it.”

In contrast to Rachel, there is Megan, the woman who lives in the house by the railway. She seems a more reliable source of information, or is she? She is unhappy too and we are uncertain why. Dissatisfied – with her marriage, her life? – she goes to see a counsellor. She hints about ‘betrayals’.

For the first half of the book I got the two women slightly confused, not their current life but their back stories. Then a third female voice is added, Anna. Anna was clear to me from the beginning, and her viewpoint adds clarity to the wider picture.

This is a thriller about men, as seen by women; about relationships, as seen by women; about truth and lies, and our ability to recognise one from the other.

A great debut.

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If you like this, try:-
‘The Girls’ by Lisa Jewell
‘Foxlowe’ by Eleanor Wasserberg
‘All the Birds, Singing’ by Evie Wyld

‘The Girl on the Train’ by Paula Hawkins [UK: Doubleday] Buy now

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by @PaulaHWrites #bookreview via @SandraDanby http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1rA

Comments

  1. It does sound like a very interesting book, based on a great premise. Trains seem to be in the literary news at the moment in terms of meeting places. Someone recommended a film to me with Gabriel Burn in it all about some romance started on a train. Hope you have a lovely 2015

    • sandradan1

      Yes, Happy New Year to you too Peter. All is not what it seems with this book, a good thriller. SD