by Paula Hawkins
If you liked GONE GIRL, you’ll probably like this story of faulty witnesses, unfulfilled fantasies, self-deception and psychopathology.
THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN focuses on Rachel, who gets laid off from her London PR firm job because of her drinking. She hides this from her roommate by getting dressed and taking the 8:04 a.m. commuter train into Euston just as she did when she was employed.
The train takes her past the Victorian semi-detached house where she lived happily with her husband Tom for five years. Through her usual hangover headache, she mourns the loss of a life she remembers as perfect . . . until her drinking and her inability to get pregnant drove Tom into the arms of Anna.
Now Rachel rents a room from an acquaintance in an apartment where she never feels truly at home, drinks alone and tortures herself with the weekday train ride to London past the house where the remarried Tom now lives with Anna and their new baby.
She becomes obsessed with another young couple living down the street from Tom and Anna, whose house she sees everyday on her train ride. In her fantasies about their wonderful life together, she calls them Jason and Jess.
In irregularly alternating chapters, the reader sees into the lives of Rachel, Anna and Tom, and Scott and Megan (the fantasy couple, Jason and Jess). Anna feels tortured by Rachel’s inability to let go of her ex-husband; Megan feels oppressed by Scott’s hovering. Rachel is starting to have black outs that leave her not knowing what she’s done.
One day Rachel sees a strange man being embraced by Megan as the train goes by. Not long after, the newspapers report that Megan is missing. Rachel believes what she saw may be the key to Megan’s disappearance.
Weeks later, when Megan’s body is found, Rachel goes to the police. When their questioning exposes her drinking and faulty memory and her difficulties letting go of her ex-husband, they don’t take her story seriously. The white lies she tells to get close enough to Scott to reveal what she saw make her seem voyeuristic.
Where GONE GIRL is a breath-stopping, suspenseful tale of a woman tightening the noose around her husband’s neck for life, THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is filled with self-centered, damaged characters who leave you not knowing what to believe. Without characters you care about, the reader is left in a fog of secrets and withheld information.
Ultimately, an unsatisfying experience as a book.
The book has been made into a movie coming out in early October.
The Author: Paula Hawkins
Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Hawkins moved to London in 1989. She worked as a journalist 15 years before becoming a fiction writer.