The Girl on the Train – Review

Kettlemag, Ellie Leddra, The Girl on the Train, review
Written by Ellie Leddra

Rachel likes a drink. A few drinks, in fact. She also likes people watching, specifically as she sits on the train home, delving in and out of people’s lives in their terraced houses. She likes watching a couple in particular, who seem to have the perfect lifestyle, one that Rachel wishes she could get back. Freshly divorced from her husband (who has settled down with his mistress and their new baby), Rachel lives through her couple, who she has dubbed ‘Jen & Jason’, and watches their perfect lifestyle, as she carries on her journey. Until one day she sees the pair arguing, and the next, ‘Jen’ – who is actually called Megan, appears on the front page of the newspaper and has disappeared.

All is not as it seems…

Rachel is determined to find out what has happened to Megan, by any means necessary. However Rachel is prone to blacking out when drunk and making foolish mistakes, so when she goes in search of Megan, somethings aren’t as memorable as others. She appears to harass her ex-husband and his new wife, comfort Megan’s husband by showing up at their house and furthermore, lie to police regarding Megan’s disappearance. Determined to find out what happened to one half of her fantasy couple, Rachel comes across some not-so-nice revelations and finds out that people she thought she adored and knew aren’t all they seem.

Who should you really trust?

Hawkins writes from three points of view, 3 very different characters with their background stories and their present put into focus. She writes her 3 stories with sympathy but also a touch of empathy, although throughout the book I wasn’t sure if I completely liked any of the characters. They all seem to have traits which make you question if they are reliable or not. The book is full of suspense – the good kind. As much as you know you can’t trust the character of Rachel, due to her booze induced blackouts, you want her to find out what happened to her beloved couple, despite not being able to piece together her recollections of the night before. With the point of views from Megan, who has disappeared, as well as Anna, the woman Rachel’s husband left her for, these are 3 women with very different stories, and very different personalities, with revelations that change your perspective of the character.

Is it anything like Gone Girl?

With the comparison to Gone Girl looming, Hawkins writes a tamer piece, minus the psychotic version of Gone Girl’s Amy Dunn. Although it falls in the category of the thriller, it is very much individual in its own right. Full of surprising twists and harsh revelations, The Girl on the Train feels very much realistic, especially when she writes about travelling past people’s houses on the train, as I believe we all have a secret longing to know what really goes on inside other people’s houses. Hawkins commented on her book ‘The stories kept getting darker and darker. I’m not a joyful, romantic person. I can be, but I’ve got a proper dark side and I enjoy indulging it’. 

The book has already sold over 250,000 and Dreamworks has acquired the rights to make the film. Hawkins has been amazed by the success of her book, commenting ‘It’s surreal, isn’t it? Bonkers!’ says Hawkins, pleasantly dazed by the scale of its success.

Coming to the end

I couldn’t put this book down. From start to finish, I was hooked by the fact you were never truly sure who you could trust and what you should really believe. I can see how people may compare this to Gone Girl; it has the same qualities of having a twist ending, characters who aren’t all they seem and a storyline where a pivotal character goes missing, but it should be praised in its own right. Without giving too much away, I was excited to get to the ending, as you sort of feel like you have come on a journey with Rachel, the desperate longing to know what has happened to Megan, constantly questioning what you thought you believed in the first place.