The Girl on the Train is told from the perspective of three different women: Rachel, Megan and Anna. Rachel is the main protagonist and the girl on the train. She's a lonely, divorced woman with a serious drinking problem. She suffers from black-outs and does things like call her ex-husband or show up on his doorstep while intoxicated.
Every morning and evening, she rides the train into London for her job. The train stops briefly each morning behind Rachel's old neighborhood, where she and her husband Tom lived before the divorce. Now Tom lives there with his new wife Anna (the third narrator of the story), and their new child, while Rachel rents a room from a former college friend, Cathy. The few months she expected to reside there has turned into two long years.
Four houses away from her old home, a "perfect, golden couple" live, whom Rachel has named Jess and Jason. Jess, who's really Megan, is the second female narrator of the novel. Rachel's become obsessed with this beautiful couple, always looking for them when the train stops on the tracks. From her seat, Rachel imagines how Jess and Jason live their lives, what their hobbies might be along with their occupations. Then one day, Jess disappears. Rachel's pulled into the investigation and the plot begins its suspenseful twists and turns.
I thought that The Girl on the Train was a very, good read. It has a Hitchcockian feel to it a la Rear Window with its voyeuristic tendencies; instead of a photojournalist laid up with a broken leg in a wheelchair, we have a depressed drunk seated on a train. Quite a few times, I wanted to reach into the book and shake Rachel. Everyone lies in this book and the reader doesn't know who to trust. For me, this book was an addictive page turner, engrossing and well-paced. I couldn't wait to find out what happened on the next page and how the story ended.
The author, Paula Hawkins, revealed in an interview her premise for writing this book: I’ve done lots of train journeys, and I’ve always thought how interesting it would be if you actually got to witness something. Because you never really do – I’ve never seen anything interesting! You look at these houses, and most of the time you never see people; you see things that maybe bring images to mind – for example, toys in the back garden that have been abandoned – and that starts you thinking about something.
In addition to being a bestseller, The Girl on the Train has also been made into a movie, premiering October 7th, with Emily Blunt in the lead as Rachel. More info on the movie can be found here.
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