4 Lancaster Roses · Book Reviews · Home · Thriller

A Hitchcockian Rollercoaster: Paula Hawkins’s “Girl on the Train”


Title: Girl on the Train

Author: Paula Hawkins

Publisher: Riverhead Books

Copyright: January 2015

ISBN-10: 1594633665

ISBN-13: 978-1594633669

Format: E-Book, 336 Pages, $7.46 [Amazon Paperback], $16.29 [Amazon Hardcover], $9.99 [Kindle], $19.60 [Audible], $7.85 [Barnes & Noble Paperback], $17.15 [Barnes & Noble Hardcover], $27.46 [Barnes & Noble Audiobook], $9.99 [Nook], $9.99 [Google Play], $9.99 [iBooks], $23.95 [iBooks Audiobook]


A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

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?


The Girl on the Train was one of those books that people had been urging me to read for a while. Acquaintances, friends, and family members kept praising this particular book and cried of its greatness. The ending perhaps is what makes the book. It is the glue that binds together all the different story lines. Initially I dismissed this book as being far to sensationalized. While I have a tendency to prefer historical fiction books, I decided to take a stab at it.

Main character Rachel Watson takes the train every day to London and passes by the house in which she once lived. An alcoholic who is still haunted by a failed marriage with her ex-husband, Rachel is quite perfectly described as a broken and off kilter character. To make matters worse, Rachel, who lives with her flatmate Cathy (a woman who clearly pities the damaged heroine) actually got fired at her public relations job for another showy bout of drunkenness. With nowhere to go and nothing to do, Rachel rides the train every single day and spends the most of her time in something of a trance-like reverie.

The truth is that Rachel’s alcoholism began as a result of her failure to produce a child with her husband. Her ex-husband Tom then left her for his mistress (and now his current wife), Anna. The two live happily with their daughter, Evie, at 23 Blenheim Street, Rachel’s old house that she shared with Tom.  Haunted by the shattering realization of her loneliness and the crumbs of a failed marriage, Rachel just can’t let go. So, being the sorrowful soul that she is, she rides by every day on the train.  Just a few doors down at 15 Blenheim Street, Rachel happens to see a couple who she dubs “Jess and Jason.” Watching them in a succession of weeks, she assumes that Jess and Jason are a happy couple, her mind filled with seasons of intimate interactions. One can even go so far as to say that Rachel begins to fantasize about the couple and what it is like to be Jess.

While Rachel is drunk as a skunk one night, something shocking happens. Although the details are fuzzy and she can’t exactly recall what happened, she has a strong uneasy feeling about it. When she discovers that the woman she called “Jess” for months is actually Megan Hipwell and that she has been missing since that night, Rachel is beyond astonishment. Eventually she approaches the detectives who are working on the case but due to her incessant drunkenness, she is considered an entirely unreliable witness. It appears that Detective  Is is possible that Rachel saw Megan that night? Was she somehow involved in Megan’s disappearance? Did she perhaps see something that could have helped the detectives?

From start to finish, Girl on The Train was a gripping and compelling book. It had a slightly dark tone to it with an underlying theme of mystery. The characters were genuinely interesting, especially Rachel who was at best would have been considered an unreliable narrator had the story been in first person. The flow of the story was steady with times with increments where it became slow. Overall, it was a fun read.







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