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The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

BY James Walton

1st Jan 2015 Book Reviews

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

A gripping thriller that rivals Gone Girl. But will The Girl on the Train reach cinematic fame as well?

The synopsis

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?


The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins


The Review

This isn’t a huge claim since it’s only January, but The Girl on the Train may be the most hyped book of 2015 so far, with several people talking of it as this year’s Gone Girl. It’s also tricky to review because the narrative twists begin almost straight away, and to give away even the early ones would deprive readers of several satisfying shocks.

What I can reveal is that, on her morning commute to London, a woman called Rachel becomes mildly obsessed with a couple whose garden she can see into when the train is at a red signal. But then she spots something that suggests their lives aren’t as idyllic as she’d imagined…

From there we enter the kind of thriller you can’t put down, even when your own train journey ends and you’re walking along the platform. Looking back afterwards, you may wonder if everything was as plausible as it felt at the time. Yet, when you’re actually reading it, you’re far too swept along to care.


James writes and presents the BBC Radio 4 literary quiz The Write Stuff

Read more articles by James Walton here

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