I’m a little late to this thrilling first novel by Paula Hawkins. I purchased The Girl on the Train last month on the “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” table at my local Barnes & Noble. I had wanted to read it when it was first published in 2015, and everyone was raving about it, but I had too many books on the “need to read” pile. (Don’t tell my husband… I always have too many books I haven’t read.) Oddly, after the book was made into a movie, which had lackluster reviews, my desire to read it was tempered. I should have known better… never judge a book by its movie!
Hawkins has created a cast of real people, real flaws, and real-ish situations. We meet our main character, Rachel, as she is traveling to and from London on the same train she rides every weekday. It generally stops at the same light at the same time each morning. Rachel has a regular car and a regular seat, so her view is somewhat predictable. She watches the landscape, the houses, and the people. Two people, in particular, every morning and evening, and Rachel images up names and lives for them. Almost believes they are a part of her life.
That couple is Megan and Scott. Also flawed. Rachel’s world is rocked when she sees Megan kiss a man that is not Scott. And her world crumbles when Megan goes missing. See, Rachel is a blackout drunk alcoholic. She has been in a downward spiral of depression that began when she could not conceive a child. Her sadness and alcoholism cost her – her marriage, her home, and her job. Rachel becomes an unreliable witness in Megan’s disappearance (and murder).
Rachel finds a purpose in Megan’s disappearance, and she becomes driven to figure out what she can’t remember about the night Megan disappeared. Hawkins unveils the stories of Rachel and Megan in suspenseful bits at a time. Megan’s timeline begins in 2012, while we meet Rachel in 2013, giving us perspective Rachel never has. The two ladies never meet.
I don’t want to spoil the mystery for anyone who has not had a chance to read The Girl on the Train yet. It’s a near perfectly written thriller. It’s one of those captivating reads that I stayed up way past my bedtime to try to finish to know how it ends. I found it a quick read at 323 pages. I may still try to see the film on a lazy day… maybe. But the book is better.