The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins, was published in 2015, and became a New York Times bestseller. It’s been adapted into a movie, which will be out later this year. It was The Seattle Public Library’s most checked-out book in 2015. I’m rather amazed that I was able to get a copy from the library so quickly.
Rachel commutes by train to London every weekday morning. There’s a section of the track, near a row of houses, where the train has to stop momentarily for a signal. That stop is near a house where she used to live. It’s the same house where her ex-husband, Tom, now lives with his new wife, Anna.
That signal stop gives Rachel a daily glimpse of a seemingly happy couple, having breakfast in their back yard. She doesn’t know them, or anything about them. She imagines that their names are Jason and Jess. She imagines that they’re living a perfect life.
Rachel is not living a perfect life.
Rachel is happy that Jess and Jason are living a perfect life. She is hurt, and angry, that Tom and Anna are living a perfect life.
One morning, Rachel wakes up at home, bloody and bruised. She has no memory of the previous night. All she knows is that she drank too much that night. (Rachel is an alcoholic.)
Later, the police arrive at Rachel’s flat, asking her what she knows about the disappearance of a woman named Megan. Megan, it turns out, is “Jess”. She disappeared on the night Rachel can’t remember.
Actually, Rachel did see something suspicious. Should she tell the police about it? What if she had something do with Megan’s disappearance?
The Girl on the Train is told from the points of view of three women: Rachel, Anna, and Megan. Each shift in point of view is marked by the woman’s name, followed by the day it takes place, and is usually divided into two parts: morning and evening (like a commute). It’s a format that confused me at first, but once I got used to it, I had a tough time putting this book down. I really wanted to know how the mystery turns out.
The story takes place during a summer, which has nothing to do with anything, so I’m not going to count that for the Reading Challenge. It is, however, very English – full of phrases like “ringing their mobile”, “takeaway cartons”, and “the off-license” – so I am going to count that.
- A book set in Europe
- A New York Times bestseller
- A book that’s becoming a movie this year