The girl on the train (2015) – Paula Hawkins


Summary (I’m going to summarize the whole book so if you haven’t read the book or at least watched the movie, I recommend you not to read this blog):

Rachel Watson is a divorced woman living in a spare room at her friend’s flat. She’s around 35, desperate, purposeless and always drunk. She lost her jobs months ago because of her alcoholism. Every day she takes the 8.04 am train to go London and the 5.56pm one to go back. She acts as if she still got a job but in fact she just wanders around some London libraries and parks and coffee shops. Most of the time, she’s drunk. She drinks to forget her miserable situation now, to calm herself or to go to sleep. Her ex-husband, Tom, cheated on her and married that mistress whom gave him a newborn daughter. The woman, Anna, moved to live with him in the house he used to share with Rachel. That house is near the house of Scott and Megan Hipwell, a young married couple, whom Rachel enjoys watching during her daily train journeys. Seeing that young happy couple seems to delight Rachel a bit. It gives her to feeling of hope and contentment.

One Friday morning, Rachel sees Megan kissing another man but not her husband. She’s furious for the husband and she can’t help but coming to their house to tell Scott the next day, despite the fact that this house is very close to her old house, to Tom and Anna’s. This is where their lives entangle. Megan Hipwell is reported missing since the following Saturday night, the night Rachel came to their area. Having tried to recreate the memories of that night, Rachel cannot remember anything due to her drunkeness. There’s a blackout in her mind and all she knows is she has a cut on her head. The police sets up an investigation on Megan’s missing. Everyone is looking for her, and Rachel tries to help. This makes her feel not worthless. She tells the police what she saw the morning but they seem not to trust her with her unstable mental. Indeed, she’s almost charged for kidnapping the baby of Tom and Anna Watson that night, about which she totally has no impression. She decides to tell Scott herself about the incident and they find out the man Megan was kissing is her therapist, Kamal Abdic. However, the police can’t find enough evidence to sentence that man.

The body of Megan Hipwell is discovered after nearly a month. She was buried in an empty wood. Now this is a case of murder and the most suspicious man becomes her own husband since he’s got enough motives to kill her. She was cheated on him with some other men and was pregnant by the time she was killed. Rachel and Scott grow closer as they find comfort from each other. But then Scott recognizes Rachel’s lies and he loses his temper and throws violence on her. This man, after all, is a controlling, jealousy, over protective husband who always tried to check up on his dead wife.

Rachel, eventually, gains her memories of that night. She finds out about the truth. She saw Megan that night. By the time she knows everything, she tries to warn Anna, whom also has some sense of what really happened, of what her husband really did. Tom was having an affair with Megan Hipwell and that was why he recommended Anna to hire Megan as a child-minder for their daughter. Anna is still denying the truth about when Tom is back home, realizing his ex and his wife are talking in their house. He tries to get both of the women in the house, to stop them from running, especially Rachel. As they talk, he admits his affair with Megan and he was trying to stop her annoyance for good that night in order to have a happy life with Anna. The fact that Rachel appeared that night caused everything to change. Anna cancelled her night out and Tom had to drive Megan to somewhere nobody could see them together. Here in the wood Megan confessed her pregnancy, and though Tom told her to get rid of it, she threatened to destroy his life by telling everybody about their affair. Tom was anxious and furious so he killed her and hid the body in the wood. The culprit, after admitting his crime, tries to keep Rachel silent for good. Rachel is taken to the dead end so she kills Tom in defense.

In the end, both of the houses are on sale. Rachel decides to move somewhere much further in the north to build a new life. She’s stopped drinking since the night she gave the statement for the police and was taken home from the hospital. After all, she was just a normal unhappy woman about being childless and she was made even more desperate by a man she thought was her good and honest husband.


My opinion:

Overall, I like the story but not every page. 90% of the story is about how drunk, how miserable Rachel is and how sorry she is for the things she did or said. Sometimes this is so boring to read. During this time all the memories she has about Megan and Scott, about her ex-husband just keep repeating themselves and it makes it so tiring to read. Maybe this is how the author wants the audience to feel sorry and pity for Rachel, but it just seems a little bit too much for me. The main character is just so nonsense, purposeless and irrational. She just does the things she knows she will be terribly regret soon after.

The good thing about the story, its strength, is the way three female characters, Rachel, Megan and Anna, narrate their lives, especially in two different timelines. This makes the book more thrilling to read. The audience can understand more about each character. These three women are not perfect. They have their own problems that nobody else can see: Rachel has her alcohol addiction that her landlady wants to stop, herself wants to stop but she just can’t. She keeps running back to her happy life with Tom. She lost everything since their divorce, her husband, her house, her job, her hope. Megan seems to have a happy life with a husband who provides her financially but she can’t breathe in his over control and she’s kept her dark memories for herself for too long. She earns for the feeling of being wanted, being irresistible and being victorious. At the end when she really wins over her past and is ready for her motherhood and independence, she dies alone on a cold ground. And finally, Anna, who used to be a nasty mistress, is now a responsible mom sacrificing her freedom just to be a great mom. She believes what she’s having now is worth it but in the end, she realizes her husband is a liar, a betrayer and a killer. That’s why she pulls the corkscrew even deeper to his neck when Rachel uses it to defense.

“The girl on the train” is thrilling book worth reading, but to be honest it does not shock me as many critics claim.


My rating: 6/10


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