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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

The Girl on the Train (edition 2016)

by Paula Hawkins (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
15,0441040310 (3.63)516
Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train.… (more)
Title:The Girl on the Train
Authors:Paula Hawkins (Author)
Info:Riverhead Books (2016), Edition: Reprint, 336 pages
Collections:Your library

Work Information

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Author)

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    BookshelfMonstrosity: In these fast-paced, compelling psychological suspense novels, love, obsession, infidelity, and violence are all closely linked. Both centering around one woman, In Fidelity has a larger cast of characters (a family), while The Girl on the Train suffers alone.… (more)
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» See also 516 mentions

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Showing 1-5 of 990 (next | show all)
Not for me I'm afraid. Personal choice but I've found I like very few books written in the first person. I know others really rate it though. ( )
  MJWebb | Sep 22, 2022 |
4 stars out 4, because I only give 5 star for books I think (or know) I’ll read again. This, being a thriller, is not that type of book.

I’ll lay my cards on the table. I read this wanting to understand the hype, and I fully expected to dismiss it as a potboiler. It isn’t. It’s a tightly constructed thriller with characters that are not only unreliable, but flailing about wildly all over the place. Everyone is a mess. And most are selfish in the extreme. There’s not a character in the book to sympathise with. Even the children.

The telling of Rachel’s story as an alcoholic is worth 5 stars. The author never lets a symptom pass untold (to the last page). Yet the telling is also sadly touching. Alcoholics are almost universally painted as repulsive and weak, in both film and on the page, but here the author relates the emotions behind every drink and every drunk. Rachel might be an alcoholic, and she might be overusing alcohol as a crutch, but it’s not hard to understand why she behaves as she does. You don’t have to sympathise with her, but you can understand her behaviour if you put yourself in her shoes.

The book isn’t perfect, of course. I started to drum my fingers about halfway through, then almost immediately the author introduced something so unexpected that I had to put the book down to assimilate it. And there is an amnesia event (in all but name) that is believable, but convenient to the plot. But these are picky gripes that in no way spoiled my enjoyment.

If you want a dark thriller for a train ride or a flight, look no further. It’s not going to change your life, but it will entertain you (as a book should) if you go in with your eyes open about what type of book it is: a dark thriller. ( )
  ortgard | Sep 22, 2022 |
Note: I received an ARC from the publisher. ( )
  fernandie | Sep 15, 2022 |
My first Buddy Read with Anne (and my first in general) proved to be a total success. Not only in terms of enjoying the book, but also with regard to our Buddy Read which will not have been our last one.

So, „The Girl on the Train“ is the novel everyone talked about last year, everyone read (except for Anne and me) and everyone either loved or hated – it is hard to find an opinion set right inbetween both sides. I don’t feel sorry at all for jumping on the bandwagon at this and positioning myself at the „loved it“ side. After having read many books which were rather difficult to get through lately, „The Girl on the Train“ (or the Traingirl, as Anne and I called it for the fun of it) was fast-paced and kept me guessing about the next twists and turns. It is not your typical mystery novel where you have your murder mystery, your investigator and then, somewhere down the road, the solution. This book was rather told through the eyes of the potential perpetrators. One character turned out to be more fucked up than the other, and if you go into this novel thinking that Paula Hawkins will introduce you to likeable characters … then I am sorry to disappoint you. The word likeable seemingly does not even exist in Paula Hawkins‘ writer jargon.

However, this does not mean that „The Girl on the Train“ was about characters you could not care for. I did not like any of them, but through the course of the story, I began to care for one of the characters, and most of them (except for Anna and Tom) were developed in such a good way that you at least felt like you could understand their motivations, their character backgrounds. Paula Hawkins does not write about characters you would like to be friends with. She writes about characters who did everything wrong they could have done wrong, and she does an incredible job at that. The sad truth is, women like Rachel, Anna or Megan do exist in this world. Maybe not in exactly the same way with the same background, but they do exist, and that’s why „The Girl on the Train“ felt so realistic to me.

Yet there are quite a few things to criticize in this novel. First of all, it felt like Paula Hawkins characterized her female protagonists through the men they were married to; shaped not by their individuality, but rather solely by their marriage – Anna even more so than Megan. In addition, the reader was kept in the dark about the mystery because of a simple alcohol-caused blackout – a plot approach which feels outdated and clumsy to me. It added to the level of tension and suspense, but still bothered me throughout reading the novel. Many people cannot talk about this book without comparing it to „Gone Girl“, and while I have not read this book and intend to do so later this year, I get where those opinions are coming from what I have heard of Gillian Flynn’s writing.

The book’s structure is perhaps what sets it apart from other novels of the same genre. We have three female first-person narrators – Rachel, Megan and Anna – who are telling the story from their own points of view, and Rachel gets all the chapters with odd numbers throughout the course of the story, amplifying the impression of her character being odd. I liked this structure, and Paula Hawkins must soon have figured out one important benefit of writing her story this way: She was able to tell us only what she wants us to know. We have to rely on the first-person-narrators, which seems to be even more of a paradox if you consider how unreliable each of them is. In the end, I felt like this book could not have been half as good if Paula Hawkins had told it straight through without different time flats and narrators. And her writing is fabulous. Maybe not as good as one might desire, but also not as bad as one might fear, and it kept me hooked from the beginning to the ending, without feeling bored for even one moment.

In conclusion, „The Girl on the Train“ was a fast read, a quick experience, something which fitted my mood at exactly the right time. If I had chosen to read it some weeks earlier or later, maybe it would only have received two stars, because it is a novel you have to be in the right mood for or you will hate it, hate its structure, its characters, maybe even the plot. I understand and respect everyone who does not like this, and yet I am glad to have picked it up, to have read it along with Anne and enjoyed the hell out of it.

Recommended for those who are in the right mood for a mystery which will keep you riveted by it if only you give it a chance to hook you.
And if you have read thus far, please take a look at Anne's review as well. ( )
  Councillor3004 | Sep 1, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 990 (next | show all)
"...a building, inescapable tension that Hawkins handles superbly, nibbling away at Rachel’s memories until we, like our sardonic, bitterly honest narrator, aren’t really sure we want to know what happened at all."
added by fannyprice | editThe Guardian, Alison Flood (Jan 19, 2015)
“The Girl on the Train” has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since “Gone Girl,” the book still entrenched on best-seller lists two and a half years after publication because nothing better has come along. “The Girl on the Train” has “Gone Girl”-type fun with unreliable spouses, too. Its author, Paula Hawkins, isn’t as clever or swift as Gillian Flynn, the author of “Gone Girl,” but she’s no slouch when it comes to trickery or malice. So “The Girl on the Train” is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership too
added by rybie2 | editNew York Times, Janet Maslin (Jan 4, 2015)
Readers sometimes conflate the “likability” of characters with a compulsion to care about their fate, but with a protagonist so determined to behave illogically, self-destructively and frankly narcissistically (someone even refers to her as “Nancy Drew”), it’s tough to root for Rachel. She’s like the clueless heroine of a slasher film who opts to enter the decrepit, boarded-up house where all her friends have been murdered because she hears a mysterious sound through an upstairs window

» Add other authors (31 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hawkins, PaulaAuthorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Brealey, LouiseNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Corbett, ClareNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Fisher, IndiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Göhler, ChristophÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Manhood, SilasPhotographersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Porteri, BarbaraTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ward, ClaireCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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La Campana Tocs (La Campana)
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She's buried beneath a silver birch tree down towards the old train tracks.
The holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.
All those plans I had—photography courses and cookery classes—when it comes down to it, they feel a bit pointless, as if I'm playing at real life instead of actually living it. I can't do this, I can't just be a wife. I don't understand how anyone does it—there is literally nothing to do but wait. Wait for a man to come home and love you. Either that or look around for something to distract you.
...let's be honest: women are still only valued for two things—their looks, and their role as mothers.
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Rachel catches the same commuter train every morning. She knows it will wait at the same signal each time, overlooking a row of back gardens. She's even started to feel like she knows the people who live in one of the houses. 'Jess and Jason', she calls them. Their life - as she sees it - is perfect. If only Rachel could be that happy. And then she sees something shocking. It's only a minute until the train moves on, but it's enough. Now everything's changed. Now Rachel has a chance to become a part of the lives she's only watched from afar. Now they'll see; she's much more than just the girl on the train.

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Book description
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Haiku summary
Fall-down drunk rides trains.
Witnesses murder? Maybe.
Needs to sober up.

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