THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN by Paula Hawkins

So I jumped on the bandwagon and read the Book of 2015, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s one of the recent crop of Psychological Thrillers Narrated by Women that may or may not achieve Gone Girl success. The Girl on the Train has three narrators: (1) Rachel, a depressed alcoholic who is divorced from Tom and rides the train to London every day past his house, where she used to live and where Tom now lives with (2) Anna, who has a toddler, is happily married to Tom, and enlists babysitting help from (3) Megan, Anna and Tom’s neighbor who is married to Scott and has a checkered past.

Rachel, who is obsessed with Tom and mourning the loss of her old life, sees Megan and Scott’s house every day and romanticizes their relationship, naming them Jason and Jess and creating personas for them that reflect the life she wishes she had. But one day, when she passes the house from the train, she sees Megan with another man. And a few days later, Megan has disappeared – on the same night that Rachel was in the neighborhood, so drunk that she can’t remember what she saw. Rachel is devastated by the demise of this perfect couple she has concocted, and ends up getting involved with the investigation. She goes to the police with what she knows, she tells Scott about Megan’s affair, and she even manages to interact with the man Megan had the affair with, all the while continuing her unwelcome intrusions into Tom and Anna’s life. In short, her already teetering life goes entirely off the tracks.

The Girl on the Train is told from Rachel, Anna and Megan’s perspective, and as the chapters go by, you realize that the three women are not as different as they might seem. They each have their own insecurities and complicated feelings about motherhood. They are involved with some of the same men. Their interior thoughts reveal ugliness and weaknesses that they try, often unsuccessfully, to hide from view.

I can’t reveal much more without giving away what happens in the book, but there is a twist toward the end that brings the women’s stories together and resolves the question of what happened to Megan. I was a little disappointed by the twist, because it ultimately wasn’t one that the reader could have reasonably figured out on his or her own. I prefer twists that were hinted at, even briefly, by the plots leading up to them, and I think Hawkins hid the ball on this one. But the ending was nonetheless pulse-quickening and mostly satisfying (though in retrospect there are a few key things that don’t hold up).

I think I liked the experience of reading The Girl on the Train more than I like the book now. I was kind of glad to finish it. I listened to it on audio, so it was quite an investment of time for a story that in retrospect is basically a thriller. But it was definitely entertaining and held my attention. The narrators’ voices were fantastic – sad, humiliated Rachel; confident, no-nonsense Anna; and wispy, melancholy Megan. I think they did a great job bringing these characters to life.

I’d like to give away my audio copy of The Girl on the Train to someone who wants to take a crazy ride with this book. If you’d like to win, leave me a comment here and I will pick a name on Friday, February 20.

15 Comments

  • February 11, 2015 - 2:25 pm | Permalink

    No need to enter me. I have a Kindle copy and will be reading it soon. I turned down the ARC because it did have that “everyone will be reading it” vibe and I tend to not read those books when everyone else is reading them. But after all the hype (so much of it!) I caved and bought a cheap Kindle version with my Amazon credits. Entertaining is okay. I don’t expect it to be deep.

  • Lauren Thomson
    February 11, 2015 - 2:44 pm | Permalink

    Always in the lookout for a good listen!

  • Mona Benach
    February 11, 2015 - 2:59 pm | Permalink

    Please pick me so I can be one of the cool kids who has read it!

    • heather
      February 11, 2015 - 5:12 pm | Permalink

      On the longest hold list on my library’s website.
      But excited to read or listen…whenever that may be…

  • Cori
    February 11, 2015 - 6:34 pm | Permalink

    I have it on my list to read this year!

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  • Techeditor
    February 12, 2015 - 7:30 am | Permalink

    I assume you were being sarcastic when you called this The novel of 2015. I read this, too, and I certainly hope it isn’t the book of the year.

    No need to enter me in the contest. I already own the book. And I truly didn’t think it was that great. it is quite Overhyped.

    This story did keep my attention, I’ll give it that. But the whole thing was about Rachel’s blackouts and trying to figure out what really happened. It was really nothing more than that.

  • Pat Burke
    February 12, 2015 - 7:51 am | Permalink

    Sounds like it would be a good accompaniment to my morning walk!

  • Susan Wolowitz
    February 12, 2015 - 8:20 am | Permalink

    Would be a good listen on my morning commute.

  • Lisa R
    February 12, 2015 - 12:46 pm | Permalink

    I think my husband and I would enjoy listening to this on our upcoming road trip to AZ for baseball spring training. Thanks for sharing!

  • Diane@BibliophilebytheSea
    February 13, 2015 - 7:49 pm | Permalink

    I’ve already read this one and liked it — not perfect though.

  • February 15, 2015 - 7:21 pm | Permalink

    I’m not huge into psychological thrillers, but I’ll try anything on audio in the hopes in makes my morning commute less tedious!

  • Elisabeth
    February 16, 2015 - 5:28 pm | Permalink

    This is an out of my comfort zone genre, so I am interested in reading it. Thanks for the giveaway! I am in!

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