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February 24, 2015

The Girl on the Train



The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
Fiction
2015 Riverhead Books
Finished on January 24, 2015
Rating: 4.5 (Terrific!)





The train crawls along; it judders past warehouses and water towers, bridges and sheds, past modest Victorian houses, their backs turned squarely to the track.

My head leaning against the carriage window, I watch these houses roll past me like a tracking shot in a film. I see them as others do not; even their owners probably don’t see them from this perspective. Twice a day, I am offered a view into other lives, just for a moment. There’s something comforting about the sight of strangers safe at home.

Someone’s phone is ringing, an incongruously joyful and upbeat song. They’re slow to answer, it jingles on and on around me. I can feel my fellow commuters shift in their seats, rustle their newspapers, tap at their computers. The train lurches and sways around the bend, slowing as it approaches a red signal. I try not to look up, I try to read the free newspaper I was handed on my way into the station, but the words blur in front of my eyes, nothing holds my interest. In my head I can still see that little pile of clothing lying at the edge of the track, abandoned.

Publisher’s Blurb:

There she sits, the girl on the train. What she sees, gazing out the window, will change everything.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. 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 looks forward to it. 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 goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.


This chilling psychological tale has everything: Obsession, jealousy, scorned lovers and canned gin & tonics. Definitely not a good mix. With alternating points-of-view and multiple flashbacks, Paula Hawkins has herself a best-selling thriller that never loosens its grip. From cover to cover, this debut is one intense read!

As usual, I went into this book completely blind, which is exactly how everyone should approach The Girl on the Train. Spoiler-free. Remember when everyone was reading Gone Girl, but couldn’t talk about it? Or looking further back, there was all the hush-hush about The Sixth Sense and Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island. Even the season finale to The Sopranos had everyone tightlipped. Well, I can’t talk about this book. The most I can do is give you the publisher’s blurb and a few quotes from those who have read and loved the book, just as I have. You’ll just have to read it for yourself. Then let’s talk!

What really makes The Girl on the Train such a gripping novel is Hawkins' remarkable understanding of the limits of human knowledge, and the degree to which memory and imagination can become confused. (NPR.org)
Psychologically astute debut . . . The surprise-packed narratives hurtle toward a stunning climax, horrifying as a train wreck and just as riveting. (Publishers Weekly, starred review)
Ok. I'll tell you a little more. 

I finished The Girl on the Train almost a month ago and I still think it’s outstanding read, one I know I’d like to eventually listen to on audio. It’s not great literature, but it’s without doubt a breathtaking thriller, which pulled me in from the opening lines and didn't let me go until I finished the very last paragraph. Yes, all of the characters are unlikeable and I especially had a tough time with Rachel's constant drinking problem, but Hawkins does such a great job making the reader care just enough to want to continue and find out how it all ends. I knocked it down from a perfect 5/5, as there weren’t any lyrical passages to mark and the ending felt a little anticlimactic, although I usually feel that way about most mysteries/thrillers. It's the getting there that's all the fun.

Final Thoughts:

If this is Hawkins’ debut thriller, I can’t imagine how amazing her second endeavor is going to be. Someone buy that woman a cabin on a lake and let her write another book! Until then, I’ll be first in line to see this on the big screen. Move over, Gone Girl! This one’s got you beat. I think Patricia Highsmith and Hitchcock would approve.

27 comments:

  1. I think you are right about Hitchcock and Highsmith. Suspect that Mr. Hitchcock would like to transform it into a film. I think part of my problem was frustration with (well I won't say). Like you, looking forward to seeing what she comes up with next.

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    1. Kay, how I wish Hitchcock were alive and able to bring this to the big screen. Somehow, I doubt anyone else can make it as good as I imagined as I read the book.

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  2. I loved this book too and agree it's best not to know much going into it.

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    1. Kathy, I have a feeling this is going to be like Gone Girl. A lot of fans and a lot of haters. Oh, well. Glad you liked it, too!

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  3. :) I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Love the comment about buying the author a cabin on the lake!

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    1. Jenclair, I think my husband and I have joked about living in a cabin on a lake for so many years, it was the first thing I thought of. ;)

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  4. Darn it. I have so many books on my TBR list it's shocking even to me and here you go dangling another one in front of me. Your "Final Thoughts" are what clinched it.I've requested a sample from Kindle, a dangerous practice . . .

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    1. Lol! Hope you enjoy it and I'm sorry about the TBR list. If it makes you feel any better, mine is probably just as bad.

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  5. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one so much! I'm on the library hold list and hope the wait isn't too long.

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    1. JoAnn, since it such a quick read, I would think the waiting time for your library copy wouldn't be too terribly long. Can't wait to hear your thoughts on it!

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  6. Glad you liked this Les. I enjoyed it, but thought the beginning moved slow. I will not forget Rachel though LOL

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    1. Diane, it didn't feel slow to me, but I've heard this from other readers, too. Yep. Rachel was a piece of work, wasn't she?

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  7. You have me dying with curiosity!!! Enough that I'm THIS CLOSE to buying a copy right now...but I know I likely won't read it for another year or so. Enough to forget about the hype (but hopefully not see any spoilers).

    Also, so bummed that The Sopranos isn't on Netflix streaming! #random

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    1. Buy it!! Seriously, I doubt you'll be able to resist reading it once you do buy it. It's a fairly quick read and one that you won't be able to put down. Wish you lived closer so I could just loan you my copy. ;)

      Do you only have streaming for Netflix? Maybe make the switch long enough to watch The Sopranos, then go back to streaming.

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  8. This book is definitely making the rounds! I am glad to see another positive review. I am like Trish, though, by the time I finally read it the hype will have died down...

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    1. I think the book is getting a lot more hype now and I'm seeing more copies fly off the shelf at work. Of course, everyone wants it in paperback.

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  9. I love thrillers, and I so respect your opinion. This novel is now awaiting me to pick it up at the library, and as soon as I read it I'll be over to talk with you about it. As for Gone Girl, you know I think ill of the conclusion, which spoiled the whole thing for me I seeming to contrived and manipulative. I'm not surprised Girl on The Train was better. xo

    p.s. Happened to see a glimpse of the red wine bottle on facebook, which made me want to tear through my iPad to have a sip. Love your stemless glass, too, my favorite kind!

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    1. Well, I'm not sure if you'll love or hate this book... ;) I can't wait for you to get it from your library and post your review!!

      Ahh, those stemless glasses are the best, aren't they? That red wine was quite delicious, too. Wish you could've joined me for a drink!

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    2. p.s. Darn it that we can't have that wine and a discussion!!! xo

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  10. Okay, my beloved friend, my copy just came in from the library yesterday, and I CANNOT PUT IT DOWN! I even brought it to school today, like I'm going to find time to read around teaching. ;) If it continues to hold up this well, it's going to far exceed that Gone Girl. I'll get back to you when I finish, but for now...wow! xoxoxo

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  11. This one just started off pulling me in and kept me all the way to the end. That last little twist (you know the one I'm talking about) totally surprised me. So, so many twists along the way, too!

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    1. Lisa, there were certainly a few twists to keep ya guessing, weren't there? Glad you enjoyed it! Hope she's working on something new right now, don't you?

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  12. Okay, I finished it last week. Here's the thing: it held my attention throughout so completely, but again, the ending was a bit anti-climactic for me. Better than Gone Girl, to be sure, but still I closed it with a sense of let down. Not sure why...at least it all made sense and wasn't tricked up. Overall, I'm glad I read it. The suspense and interweaving of character and plot was masterful.

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    1. Yep, the ending was a bit anticlimactic, but then I feel that way about almost every single mystery or thriller that I read. It's the build-up (as well, as the character studies) that makes for such a fun read.

      If you want to read another good mystery (more mystery than thriller), give The Various Haunts of Men by Susan Hill a try. I thought the audio was fabulous!

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  13. I was over here earlier, I think in the middle of a Spelling lesson at school, but the computer flaked out on me. I can't even remember the wise and insightful thing I was saying (wink, wink) but I just finished the book last week and it held my attention unto the last page. I was mesmerized by her skill at weaving together the plot and all the characters seemingly effortlessly. Still, somehow at the end, I felt a bit let down. But perhaps that was more to the novel coming to a close. At least she wrapped it up in a clear way without leaving the reader feeling totally manipulated. Agreed: it's far better than Gone Girl! xoxo

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    1. Oh, your comment showed up (see above). It was all very wise and insightful. :) I agree about the author being skillful at weaving everything together. The alternating narratives never once bothered me and once I knew that was the format, I wasn't confused by who was telling their story.

      Hope you're enjoying some nice weather. We're getting ready to head out for a walk. It's a beautiful day!

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