Book Review: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (2015)

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a psychological thriller that keeps readers guessing until the very end. The novel follows Rachel Watson, a woman who has recently divorced her husband, Tom, after he cheated on her with his now-wife, Anna. Rachel is an alcoholic and spends her days riding the train, watching the houses and people go by. She becomes particularly fixated on one couple, Megan and Scott Hipwell, who live near Tom and Anna.

The novel is divided into three parts and is told from the perspectives of three different women: Rachel, Megan, and Anna. The story begins with Rachel witnessing something shocking on her daily train ride, and the plot unfolds from there.

One of the strengths of The Girl on the Train is its unreliable narrators. Rachel is an alcoholic who frequently blacks out, and her memories are often hazy or distorted. Megan is hiding secrets from her husband, and Anna is still bitter about Rachel’s relationship with Tom. Each woman has a motive for their actions and each is hiding something, making it difficult for readers to determine who is telling the truth.

The plot is tightly woven and suspenseful, with twists and turns that keep readers guessing. The story is a classic whodunit, with multiple suspects and red herrings. Paula Hawkins is skilled at building tension and suspense, and the book is a page-turner from beginning to end.

The characters are complex and flawed, making them both relatable and intriguing. Rachel is a sympathetic character, struggling with addiction and the aftermath of her divorce. Megan is mysterious and alluring, with a troubled past that she is trying to escape. Anna is bitter and resentful, unable to let go of her anger towards Rachel. Each woman has a distinct voice and personality, and their perspectives provide insight into the various aspects of the plot.

The themes of The Girl on the Train are dark and haunting, and the novel is an exploration of the complexities of human relationships. The book delves into issues of infidelity, addiction, and mental health, and explores the way in which these issues can impact individuals and their relationships.

One of the key themes of the novel is the power dynamics in relationships, particularly between men and women. The male characters in the book are all flawed and abusive in some way, whether it be through infidelity, manipulation, or physical violence. The women in the book are all struggling to assert their power and find their place in a patriarchal society. The novel also explores the concept of gaslighting, with Tom and Scott both manipulating the women in their lives for their own benefit.

The setting of The Girl on the Train is also notable, as it takes place in and around London. The descriptions of the city and its suburbs are vivid and detailed, creating a sense of place and atmosphere that adds to the tension of the story.

The Girl on the Train is a well-crafted psychological thriller that will keep readers on the edge of their seats. Paula Hawkins is a skilled writer who has created a compelling and suspenseful story with complex characters and themes. The novel is a testament to the enduring popularity of the whodunit genre, and it is sure to be enjoyed by fans of thrillers and mystery novels alike.


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