Posted in Book Review, Books I have read, Five Star Reads

The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

Psychological Thriller 5*'s
Psychological Thriller

What a relief to know that I am not the only person who looks out of a train window and makes up stories for the inhabitants, that is how we meet our chief protagonist Rachel. Sitting on a train commuting to London the train routinely stops at lights in one particular stop. Rachel spots a couple sitting on their makeshift roof terrace and assigns them names, Jessie and Jason, and an idyllic life to match. As we get to know Rachel better we begin to understand why this essentially imaginary couple are so important to her.  Rachel is unhappily divorced, living in a shared house and she’s an alcoholic but fear not this book while ensuring the consequences of her drinking are clear doesn’t play us endless scenes of her drinking herself into oblivion, it is far cleverer than that giving instead a taster of her morning and evening from a selection of days starting on 5 July 2013 and ending on 18 August of the same year.

When one routine morning she sees something that shatters her views of her imaginary couple and this event becomes an obsession as its significance is revealed. This is an ingeniously constructed story told not only from Rachel’s viewpoint, but those of two other women, Anna and Megan too. Megan’s story begins a year before Anna’s and although the relevance of her story isn’t immediately apparent I still wanted to know more about her. As the story progresses the way these three women’s lives are connected becomes apparent, and then the fun really starts with the action ramping up along with the tension. With the split in viewpoint perfectly timed so that the reader doesn’t feel that the switch has been purposely inserted to prolong the suspense, although it certainly does that.

I was hooked on this story, I trusted not one of the characters, I’ll be honest, none of them are people you’d aspire to be, rather they are people with issues, unfortunate personalities and they all picked up too many narcissistic genes from the gene pool, but the author manages to keep them the right side of caricatures, unfortunates among you may have met people just like them. The plot is full of sub-plots which almost compels you to judge these people and their behaviour which just served to fuel my suspicions about each and every one of them even more.

This is an accomplished debut written by an author who has exactly the right balance of ingredients for a psychological suspense novel, a well-plotted mystery, a handful of life-like characters, events revealed at the right time and an ending that didn’t disappoint.

I’d like to thank the publishers Transworld for allowing me to read a proof copy of this book ahead of publication date on 15 January 2015 and I sincerely hope Paula Hawkins has another book in the pipeline.


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

45 thoughts on “The Girl On The Train – Paula Hawkins

  1. What an intriguing premise! There’s a certain mystique about trains I think, and to use that context can be very effective. And sometimes, characters can be interesting and keep one curious even if they aren’t exactly candidates for Person of the Year awards…


    1. Absolutely Margot! There is something about viewing backs of houses that has always sparked something inside me, perhaps because you see the less attractive side from that view… as for the people there definitely wasn’t a candidate for Person of the Year in this book 🙂


  2. There were 102 people on the library hold list for this when I checked earlier this week–but NONE on the list for the large print version! Guess which list I’m on??? 😄


  3. I like your thinking Bookmammal! V clever! I loved this too. And. It’s kept wide open, so that pretty much any of them had an opportunity and a motive to see the back of Megan – imho, that’s not easy to do! I actually thought Rachel was sort of okay, by the end. But I wouldn’t have wanted to be her flatmate when she was drinking!


  4. Glad to hear it’s not full of drunken scenes – I’ve had my fill of alcoholics in books! I’m still resisting this one, but your excellent review is adding to the pressure to break at least two of my resolutions… 😉


  5. I’m so glad you also loved this, Cleo. The Girl on The Train made it to my Best Books of 2014 because it was such a clever concept: I think we all look out train windows and we imagine things that may not be there, just for fun. That’s how our minds work, we can’t help it. But Hawkins taking it a step further and creating a crime novel is just… super clever.

    She’ll be over Books & Reviews on the 15th talking about the book and crime fiction. Hope you can join us 🙂


  6. Cleopatra! I got the audio version based on the first line of your review! I listened to it while I cleaned my house this morning, needless to say my house is spic & span. I kept finding more places to clean, so I wouldn’t have to put it down. Great review–great story. Thanks.


  7. I loved the psychology of this book – everyone had issues in my opinion, even the ones that seemed “sane” on the surface. However, I was disappointed because I guessed the ending and I’m not normally one to do that correctly! I wish she’d surprised me 😦 Check out my spoiler discussion for this one.


  8. I missed your review when you first posted it, but just saw it on Twitter. I loved the psychological element of this one, but thought the thriller aspect was a bit predictable. I guessed the ending pretty early on, which I rarely do!


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