The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

Published in 2015 by Riverhead Books US

About the Author

Paula Hawkins is a Zimbabwe born British Author, best known for her best selling psychological thriller novel ‘The Girl on the Train’. Around 2009, Hawkins began to write romantic comedy fiction under the name Amy Silver, writing four novels including Confessions of a Reluctant Recessionista. She did not achieve any commercial breakthrough until she challenged herself to write a darker, more serious story. he novel took her six months, writing full-time, to complete, at a time when she was in a difficult financial situation and had to borrow from her father to be able to complete it.


The Girl on the Train is a psychological thriller novel told from the point of view of 3 women – Rachel, Anna and Megan. Rachel is a divorced, unemployed alcoholic who takes the train to London everyday in order to keep up the pretence that she has a job for her roommate renting out the flat to her. Her train passes the home where she used to live with her ex husband, Tom who is now married to Anna. Young and beautiful Anna who was the other woman and is now the married one with a child. Rachel’s self destructive tendencies are the result of her inability to have a child and the fact that Anna could give Tom one. It causes her to binge and have blackouts and not remember what happened. During these train journeys, she also starts to watch an attractive couple who live a few houses away from Tom whom she names Jason and Jess. She imagines how perfect their life would be, not realising how far from perfect it was. Megan is the wife and she seeks solace with a therapist Dr. Kamal Abdic regarding her present marriage and her inability to come to terms with her past. One day, Rachel from the train is stunned to see Megan kissing another man and the next day, she finds herself bloody and injured with no memories of the night before. Megan is missing and Rachel is questioned by the police because she was found drunkenly staggering around the night of Megan’s disappearance.

She can’t remember anything – did she do it?

This book is really a page turner. The facts slowly unspool and none of the three females seem out of the ordinary. They all have their faults and redeeming qualities. They aren’t psychopaths and yet in their average everyday, they live out situations that are not really normal. This book was touted as the next ‘Gone Girl’ but Hawkins in an interview was right – though there are similar unreliable narrators and the suburban life, Amy is a psychopath in Gone Girl while Rachel here is just a complete mess who can’t do anything right. However, both books have really strong female characters which is a nice change lately. Nearly all the characters in this book are liars – lying to protect their shame, guilt and happiness. All of them have done things they should worry about and assess their conscience over which gives Hawkins various themes to cover – alcohol, marriage, employment and family.

 I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good psychological mystery thriller to dig into.