BOOK REVIEW – The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The girl on the train

Once you pick this up, you won’t be able to put it down! It’s a fast-paced thriller that never lets up and doesn’t disappoint.

Rachel travels on the same train every day, twice a day: the 8.04 in the morning, and then the 17.56 back again in the evening. It’s a drudging commute, but she manages to liven it up by having a drink or two, and creating scenarios in her head. Most particularly, Rachel focuses on the couple that live at number 15 Blenheim Road. They look like a golden, happy couple and Rachel names them ‘Jason’ and ‘Jess’, creating a contented, blissful life for them, similar to the life that she used to lead with her ex-husband Tom just down the street at number 23!

It quickly becomes clear that Rachel’s life has unravelled at quite an alarming rate! No marriage, no job, no real home. What has she got left really, other than to watch Jason and Jess, and drink herself into oblivion? Until the day that she sees something at number 15 that she simply cannot un-see! And very soon after that ‘Jess’ disappears, only her name isn’t Jess, it’s Megan, and Jason is actually Scott, and the idyllic life that Rachel envisaged for them is actually a myth.

Rachel tries to piece together what happened the night that Megan disappeared. She has a feeling she was there, but has no recollection of what happened. She’s absolutely positive it was ‘something’ but she’s not exactly a reliable witness and there are no surprises when the police don’t take her seriously. We’re left with sketchy evidence and are as eager as Rachel is to find out what’s really happened. But Rachel is determined to go to quite extreme measures to get to the bottom of the time she’s lost, which preys on her mind.

This is a multi-faceted story, told through the eyes of Rachel, Megan and Anna, Tom’s current wife and the woman for whom he left Rachel. All three are genuine and believable, purely because they are not entirely likeable all the time. They make mistakes (a lot), they have secrets (quite a few), and therefore they’re flawed and very human. It’s an eye-opening lesson that demonstrates how convoluted relationships can really get when they’re not based on truth or fact.

The cleverly structured timeline lends itself well to the mystery of the plot, and one needs to pay close attention to the dates and times to which each character is referring. This is a tightly crafted novel which leaves no questions unanswered at its conclusion, and will keep you up reading well into the night until you’ve reached the shock finale!

The Girl on the Train is published by Transworld Books/Transworld Digital.

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