This book is something that has been so talked about, I thought I just had to get my hands on a copy. And I’m so glad I did.
This book was literally incredible. But the story behind how Paula Hawkins went about writing it is also something that has been discussed. Hawkins wrote the Girl on the Train in a hurry, feeling like it was “the last roll of the dice” for her as a fiction writer. She was a journalist for fifteen years, and has even written novels in the past, under the pseudonym, Amy Silver. Her books include One Minute to Midnight, All I Want for Christmas and Confessions of a Reluctant Recessionista. She was commissioned to produce romantic fiction, however she didn’t feel like that was what she was ‘supposed’ to write. Obviously, for those of you who have read the Girl on the Train, it is far away from Hawkins previous romantic genre. Hawkins even said herself her romantic fiction was becoming darker and darker as she floated towards thriller fiction instead: “The last one has loads of terrible things happening in it and ended up being rather tragic in a lot of ways,” says Hawkins. “Nobody bought it.” She began to panic, believing she’s have to downsize her house, or find a new career path: “I don’t have a partner so I take care of the mortgage by myself and I was thinking, ‘Oh God, I’m going to have to sell the house, or find a new career.’ I was not in a good place but it was a real spur to get The Girl on the Train right. I had to nail it and do it really well. It really concentrates the mind, that kind of thing. For the six months I was writing it, I didn’t really do anything else.” She borrowed money from her parents to keep her going as she tried to finish her masterpiece.
All it took was one book and Hawkins has been catapulted to the front of the Bestseller’s list. It has sold more than 120,000 copies in Hardback since January, and around 2 million copies in other countries, including the U.S. The book has been at the top of the New York Times bestseller list for thirteen weeks and the film rights have been bought by DreamWorks (which will literally be the film of the year if they can do the book justice).
The book begins with Rachel’s narration, but also flits between the narration of two other women as well. Rachel takes the 8:04am train to London Euston every day, and the train always stops at the same signal about halfway through her journey. From the train she can see into a row of gardens, and becomes obsessed with a particular couple and their seemingly perfect lifestyle. One morning, the train stops as usual at the signal when Rachel sees something in their garden that will change her perspective of them forever. Shortly after, the woman goes missing. Rachel has been pulled under by alcoholism since her divorce with her husband, who lives a few doors down from the house of the perfect couple, and the police do not believe her when she gives a statement of what she saw, claiming she is an “unreliable witness”. Rachel becomes entangled in the lives of others, and, though she is convinced she knows what happened to the mystery woman, no one will trust her.
This book was a serious page turner, and I couldn’t put it down, reading it in one sitting. The character of Rachel is very interesting, especially because she drinks and can be construed as an unreliable narrator. The police see her as a drunk, who would lie to them because she leads a boring, depressing life. However she refuses to believe she is an alcoholic, and is naive about the life she leads: “On the train, the tears come, and I don’t care if people are watching me; for all they know, my dog might have been run over. I might have been diagnosed with a terminal illness. I might be a barren, divorced, soon-to-be homeless alcoholic”. She doesn’t see that this isn’t what she might be, but what she is. She is often frustrating in this way, and mopes around wanting a drink, feeling sorry for herself because she’s divorced and putting on weight. For those of you who like a twist at the end, prepare yourselves for an absolute shocker!
If Paula Hawkins ever brings out another book, I’ll be the first in the queue. An outstanding book.