The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train is a best-selling novel by British author Paula Hawkins. The novel debuted at number one on the The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 list dated February 1, 2015. It was the first book recommended by a book group promoted by the ITV television programme, Loose Women. Coleen Nolan, the singer of The Nolan Sisters fame suggested this book. I had not read anything by Paula Hawkins, but the title caught my interest.
Although Paula Hawkins was born in Harare, Zimbabwe, on 26 August, 1972, she was educated at Oxford University, Oxford, England and now lives in London. She worked as a journalist for many years before writing The Girl on the Train which is her first thriller, although it is her fifth novel. The earlier works are romantic fiction written under the pseudonym, Amy Silver. The Girl on the Train has sold more than 120,000 copies in hardback since January, and sales of ebooks and copies in other countries are at around 2m. The US market has taken to it especially the book has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for 13 weeks, and the film rights have been bought by DreamWorks.
In The Girl on the Train, Rachel, the “girl” in the title is a divorced woman in her 30s who staggers along, unsteady and unsure. On her daily, morning commute, the train always stops at the same signal and Rachel starts to become obsessed with the couple whose garden backs on to the train tracks. They have, she believes, a perfect life. Rachel, herself, is being sucked under by alcoholism and the heartbreak of her failed marriage. However, she is shocked by something she sees in the couple’s garden one day. Shortly afterwards, the woman goes missing and Rachel becomes entangled in their lives for real. This is complicated by the fact that she suffers from blackouts and memory loss, and is such a mess that neither the police nor the woman’s husband can trust what she says. The Girl on the Train is more than a straightforward crime thriller; at its heart are the threats, pressures and judgments made on women. These include, domestic violence to ageing and to how they approach motherhood. Although there is a murder and the victim is female, it does not feel like the gratuitous, sexualised murders of attractive young women that pile up in so much crime fiction.
It is a beautifully crafted book. I enjoyed it far more than I thought I would, so, if you enjoy a good thriller, I highly recommend The Girl on the Train.