The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Author: Paula Hawkins
Publisher: Random House
Copyright Year: 2015
Review By: Ann Byrne
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cosy 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?
Is it essential to have the word GIRL in the title of a crime novel in 14/15 ? This was my question as I started “The Girl on the Train”. In fact, I must admit that I was a little annoyed with the title as I questioned if we were on another marketing bandwagon. But my scepticism was quickly corrected as what awaited was a cleverly written psychological thriller from a first time author.
The story begins with Rachel spotting clothing beside the train tracks – a train that she takes daily watching and dreaming as she makes up perfect lives for the people in the houses she passes.
“My head leaning against the carriage window, I watch these houses roll past me like a tracking shot in a film. I see them as others do not: their owners probably do not see them from this perspective. Twice a day, I am offered a view into others’ lives, just for a moment. There’s something comfortable about the sign of strangers safe at home. “……
The story is told in first person through the eyes of three woman Rachel, Megan and Anna weaving backwards and forwards through two years. Rachel is the main character and we follow her as she battles with her memory to find the truth. The thrill develops as she pieces the past together through a fog of alcohol trying to understand what has happened to herself and others.
“This is what he does — this is what he always does. He’s a master at it, making me feel as though everything is my fault, making me feel worthless.”
As the psychological battle progresses she will make drunken phone calls, knock on peoples doors- people who do not want to see her, antagonise the police who think she is a crack pot,all the time unwittingly putting her life and risk. We want her to give it away, get on with her life but then we would not have the story we have! She is an obsessive character that at times will drive you crazy, make you uncomfortable and finally suck you in so that you need to know but that is the way with this genre.