Richard and Judy Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Richard and Judy Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

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"…wonderfully suspenseful and quite simply a thriller you cannot put down"

Richard’s review

The main narrator of this novel, Rachel, is an intriguing mess, overweight, unattractive and an alcoholic. As she travels home on the train past her former marital home, she cracks open a gin and tonic.

‘I take another sip, and another; the can’s already half-empty but it’s okay, I have three more in the plastic bag at my feet. It’s Friday, so I don’t have to feel guilty about drinking on the train.’

With her memory increasingly blurred, Rachel sees the attractive Megan, her former husband’s neighbour in the street, kissing a man who is not Scott, her husband. Then Rachel learns that Megan has disappeared.

Hawkins’ novel is very assured, moving back and forth in time as she tells her story through three narrators, Rachel, Megan and Anna. There’s Anna, blissfully happy with Tom and her little daughter; Megan, the seemingly perfect and beautiful wife; and Rachel, the lonely heart-broken mess, drunkenly veering from crisis to crisis, unable to remember what happened on the fateful summer night when Megan vanished.

Hawkins is also very good on the way Rachel’s fellow commuters begin to realise she’s a drunk, drinking warm wine from a bottle on Mondays as well as Fridays.

As this compulsive book (reminiscent on Hitchcock’s Rear Window) gallops to its close, readers find themselves almost as confused as Rachel. But it’s a terrific plot, wonderfully suspenseful and quite simply a thriller you cannot put down.

"…complex, tense and often scary novel"

Judy’s review

The Girl on the Train was for many months an absolute blockbuster and mega-best seller in hardback. This mystery novel is a psychological thriller. The girl of the title is Rachel Watson, a 32-year old woman whose drinking is out of control. She is divorced from Tom, who left her for another woman after Rachel was unable to conceive. Tom is now married to Anna, with whom he has a daughter.

Rachel, still reeling from the divorce, has lost her job due to her drinking, but pretends to her flatmate that she’s still working and every day takes the same train to London as she did in her working life.

On the way the train stops at a point on the track near the house she used to share with Tom, where he now lives with Anna and their baby. Rachel can see into their back garden and reflects obsessively about Tom’s new life, fueled by the many gin and tonics she consumes on the way back home.

Sad, maudlin, and usually drunk, Rachel also fantasises compulsively about another attractive couple she watches from the train, who live a few houses away from Tom and Anna. Rachel envies this other couple and imagines they have a fabulously happy life.

This begins the plot of this complex, tense and often scary novel, complicated by the fact that Rachel drinks so much she often loses her memory and cannot remember if what she thought she saw actually happened or not. After a night of heavy drinking, she wakes up to find herself drenched in blood with no idea of what happened to her. So what’s going on with Tom, Anna, the other couple, and Rachel herself? Well, we’re about to find out. And it’s murder.

Press reviews

Here are a selection of the reviews for The Girl on the Train

"Really great suspense novel. Kept me up most of the night. The alcoholic narrator is dead perfect"

Stephen King

"My vote for unreliable narrator of the year"

The Times

"This year’s most highly anticipated psychological thriller"

Sunday Times