The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Reading Time: 3 minutes

“There is something comforting at the sight of strangers safe at home.”


It would be unfair if I didn’t mention at the very beginning, that the book’s explosive commercial success was the factor that beckoned me to start up reading this book. The story is told by three different narrators – Rachael (the leading ‘girl’), Megan and Anna. It’s in the peeling off of the character layers slowly, where the strength of the book lies.

The story is about three women and how their lives become inevitably interconnected. Have you ever looked out of the train windows and imagined things about what you see ? Well everyday, Rachael, a 32 year old alcoholic divorcee commutes from suburban Ashbury to Euston(London). The marriage split happened 2 years ago that she isn’t able to wipe away.On her way when the train slows at a stop, she watches a couple(Megan and Scott), dwelling in house no. 23 by the rail-track, a few houses away from her old home where Tom (Rachael’s ex-husband) and Anna live now. She imagines them to be the epitome of ‘happy-couple’ until one day, when she sees Jess(Rachael has named Megan so) with somebody else, she is deeply affected and decides to confront this. The next day, on a saturday evening, an out and out drunk Rachael goes to Blenheim station and what follows is a blacked-out hole in her memory .The next day , Rachael finds herself in bruised state and her fears get amplified when she comes to know about the missing case of Megan Hipwell. What happened on that saturday night ? Is Tom actually the guy he projects to be ? Is Anna happy with Tom and her little family? What happened with Megan ? Was Scott over possessive and Controlling ? Was Dr.Abdic (Megan’s helpline) the sinister ?Answers to all these and more , on reading .

The Girl on the train is a page-turner, equally fascinating and gripping. To paint the main character Rachael a weaker shade , especially works as readers sympathize with her and are able to connect with her loneliness (in the first few pages) , her desperation , her fears and her longing for Tom. Hawkin’s prowess to play with the creepier side of human beings, intrigues us right from the first page. She is quite beautifully able to set the thriller tone early on in the book which benefits the story so much and her slowly revealing the “behind the closed doors”-nature of each person supplements the loose climax (spoilers alert!). There were times i had to take a break and release the creeps surfacing within.

What’s dismaying is to see all the three female characters, weak and over-flawed. Alcoholic, liar, cheater, depressed and so on. There’s no woman here who can speak for herself in front of the men.Even Cathy, Rachael’s flatmate seems to be emotionally dependent on her boyfriend so much, that his absence on some weekends puts her low. But as they say, a psychological thriller wins if it has been able to take precedence over everything else in your psyche. And this book easily hits it.

The Girl on the Train’s immense popularity is in its creepily palpable characters and credits to the writer for keeping it free from dark comic tune, which adds to the reality in the story.

Excited for Paula Hawkin’s next !


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