The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – a review

I always think there is a danger when having read a couple of really good books back to back that rather than being third time lucky the next one is just going to be a let-down. That’s especially true if the third book is one that you are really looking forward to, as was the case with Girl on the Train. Well I didn’t need to worry, this was one of the best books I’ve read for ages.
Rachel travels on the same train every day into and out of London. Whilst on the train each time she goes past the same house and sees the same couple who she names Jess and Jason and in her head she builds up a picture of their perfect lives together. So far so normal, as we all do that kind of thing (don’t we?) Yet one morning she wakes up with no recollection of what happened the night before, and find out ‘Jess’ is missing. We then meet the other two narrators in the novel namely Megan and Anna and things become a bit more sinister.
I read The Girl on the Train over one weekend as I was gripped from the start. I felt the story moves along at an excellent pace, and had me guessing all the way through. The characters are that mix of normal, happy, sad, and weird that makes up real life, albeit with them dumped in a rather unusual situation. Rachel is clearly depressed and as we soon learn she is an alcoholic so therefore a very unreliable narrator. Throughout the novel you see how she is falling further and further into despair. There are many bits when you want to just slap her, but equally in parts you feel tremendously sorry for her as she tries to move on.
I liked the way the writing moved around from the three different viewpoints during different times in the story. Often this kind of thing annoys me as I feel it is done to be clever and rather than move the story on just gets very confusing, but that was not the case with this at all. It just added to the twists and the turns in the book. I would say it is a testament to the good quality writing that I wasn’t constantly having to go backwards and forwards checking what date I was at.
With hindsight I suspect one of the reasons that this book was such a draw was that there are actually very few characters in it. This helps build the suspense, as well as actually making you feel that you are seeing things through the eyes of the narrators, rather than getting a big picture. Therefore the ending comes as a bit of a shock.
I would thoroughly recommend this book and hope to see more from Paula Hawkins soon.

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins – a review

  1. This is still on my kindle waiting to be read and I’ll hopefully get to it this month as I am trying to get my NetGalley shelf down. This is yet another good review of the book 🙂

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