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The Girl on the Train Hardcover – January 13, 2015
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An Amazon Best Book of the Month, January 2015: Intersecting, overlapping, not-quite-what-they-seem lives. Jealousies and betrayals and wounded hearts. A haunting unease that clutches and won’t let go. All this and more helps propel Paula Hawkins’s addictive debut into a new stratum of the psychological thriller genre. At times, I couldn’t help but think: Hitchcockian. From the opening line, the reader knows what they’re in for: “She’s buried beneath a silver birch tree, down towards the old train tracks…” But Hawkins teases out the mystery with a veteran’s finesse. The “girl on the train” is Rachel, who commutes into London and back each day, rolling past the backyard of a happy-looking couple she names Jess and Jason. Then one day Rachel sees “Jess” kissing another man. The day after that, Jess goes missing. The story is told from three character’s not-to-be-trusted perspectives: Rachel, who mourns the loss of her former life with the help of canned gin and tonics; Megan (aka Jess); and Anna, Rachel’s ex-husband’s wife, who happens to be Jess/Megan’s neighbor. Rachel’s voyeuristic yearning for the seemingly idyllic life of Jess and Jason lures her closer and closer to the investigation into Jess/Megan’s disappearance, and closer to a deeper understanding of who she really is. And who she isn’t. This is a book to be devoured. -Neal Thompson
“The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl. . . . The Girl on the Train is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership too. . . . The Girl on the Train is full of back-stabbing, none of it literal.”—Janet Maslin, The New York Times
“The Girl on the Train marries movie noir with novelistic trickery. . . hang on tight. You'll be surprised by what horrors lurk around the bend.”—USA Today
“Like its train, the story blasts through the stagnation of these lives in suburban London and the reader cannot help but turn pages. . . . The welcome echoes of Rear Window throughout the story and its propulsive narrative make The Girl on the Train an absorbing read.”—The Boston Globe
“[The Girl on the Train] pulls off a thriller's toughest trick: carefully assembling everything we think we know, until it reveals the one thing we didn't see coming."—Entertainment Weekly
“Gone Girl fans will devour this psychological thriller. . . . Hawkins’s debut ends with a twist that no one—least of all its victims—could have seen coming.”—People
“Given the number of titles that are declared to be 'the next' of a bestseller . . . book fans have every right to be wary. But Paula Hawkins’ novel The Girl on the Train just might have earned the title of 'the next Gone Girl.”—Christian Science Monitor
“Hawkins’s taut story roars along at the pace of, well, a high-speed train. …Hawkins delivers a smart, searing thriller that offers readers a 360-degree view of lust, love, marriage and divorce.”—Good Housekeeping
“There’s nothing like a possible murder to take the humdrum out of your daily commute.”—Cosmopolitan
"Paula Hawkins has come up with an ingenious slant on the currently fashionable amnesia thriller. . . . Hawkins juggles perspectives and timescales with great skill, and considerable suspense builds up along with empathy for an unusual central character."—The Guardian
“Paula Hawkins deftly imbues her debut psychological thriller with inventive twists and a shocking denouement. … Hawkins delivers an original debut that keeps the exciting momentum of The Girl on the Train going until the last page.”—Denver Post
“The Girl on the Train, Hawkins’s first thriller, is well-written and ingeniously constructed.” – The Washington Post
“The novel is at its best in the moment of maximum confusion, when neither the reader nor the narrators know what is occurring” – The Financial Times
“This fresh take on Hitchcock’s Rear Window is getting raves and will likely be one of the biggest debuts of the year.”—Omaha World-Herald
“Hawkins’s tale of love, regret, violence and forgetting is an engrossing psychological thriller with plenty of surprises. . . . The novel gets harder and harder to put down as the story screeches toward its unexpected ending.”—Minneapolis Star Tribune
“A gripping, down-the-rabbit-hole thriller.”—Entertainment Weekly Hotlist
“The Thriller So Engrossing, You'll Pray for Snow: Send in the blizzards, because nothing as mundane as work, school or walking the dog should distract you from this debut thriller. A natural fit for fans of Gone Girl-style unreliable narrators and twisty, fast-moving plots, The Girl on the Train will have you racing through the pages."—Oprah.com
“It's difficult to say too much more about the plot of The Girl on the Train; like all thrillers, it's best for readers to dive in spoiler-free. This is a debut novel—Hawkins is a journalist by training—but it doesn't read like the work of someone new to suspense. The novel is perfectly paced, from its arresting beginning to its twist ending; it's not an easy book to put down. . . . . What really makes The Girl on the Train such a gripping novel is Hawkins' remarkable understanding of the limits of human knowledge, and the degree to which memory and imagination can become confused.”—NPR.org
“[L]ike Gone Girl, Hawkins's book is a highly addictive novel about a lonely divorcee who gets caught up in the disappearance of a woman whom she had been surreptitiously watching. And beyond the Gone Girl comparisons, this book has legs of its own.”—GQ.com
“Paula Hawkins’ thriller is a shocking ride.” –US Weekly
“An ex-wife indulges her voyeuristic tendencies in Paula Hawkins’s film-ready The Girl on the Train. In the post-Gone Girl era, crimes of love aren’t determined by body counts or broken hearts, but by who controls the story line.” –Vogue
“The Girl on the Train [is] a harrowing new suspense novel…a complex and thoroughly chilling psychological thriller… The Girl on the Train is one of those books where you can’t wait — yet almost can’t bear — to turn the page. It’s a stunning novel of dread.” –New York Daily News
“The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins is a psychologically gripping debut that delivers.” –The Missourian
“The Girl on the Train is the kind of slippery, thrilling read that only comes around every few years (see Gone Girl).” –BookPage
“Hawkins, a former journalist, is a witty, sharp writer with a gift for creating complex female characters.” –Cleveland Plain Dealer
“The Girl on the Train is as tautly constructed as Gone Girl or A.S.A. Harrison's The Silent Wife, and has something more: a main character who is all screwed up but sympathetic nonetheless. Broken, but dear. . . . No matter how well it's written, a suspense novel can fall apart in the last pages, with an overly contrived or unbelievable ending. Here, The Girl on the Train shines, with its mystery resolved by a left-field plot twist that works, followed, surprisingly, by what you might call a happy ending.”—Newsday
“I’m calling it now: The Girl on the Train is the next Gone Girl. Paula Hawkins’s highly anticipated debut novel is a dark, gripping thriller with the shocking ending you crave in a noir-ish mystery.” –Bustle
“Rachel takes the same train into London every day, daydreaming about the lives of the occupants in the homes she passes. But when she sees something unsettling from her window one morning, it sets in motion a chilling series of events that make her question whom she can really trust.”—Woman’s Day
“Hawkins’s debut novel is a tangle of unreliable narrators, but what will have readers talking is her deft handling of twists and turns and her eerily fine-tuned narrative. This is one creepy, dark thriller. . . . The book is smartly paced and delightfully complex. Just when it seems Hawkins is leading us one way, Rachel, Anna, or Megan change the game. Nothing can be taken for granted in The Girl on the Train, not even the account of the girl herself.”—Las Vegas Weekly
"Psychologically astute debut . . . The surprise-packed narratives hurtle toward a stunning climax, horrifying as a train wreck and just as riveting."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] chilling, assured debut. . . . Even the most astute readers will be in for a shock as Hawkins slowly unspools the facts, exposing the harsh realities of love and obsession's inescapable links to violence.”—Kirkus (starred review)
“intricate, multilayered psychological suspense debut, from a staggered timeline and three distinct female narrators. Rachel, who is unabashed in her darker instincts, anchors the narrative. Readers will fear, pity, sympathize and root for her, though she's not always understandable or trustworthy. . . . En route to a terrorizing and twisted conclusion, all three women—and the men with whom they share their lives—are forced to dismantle their delusions about others and themselves, their choices and their respective relationships.”—Shelf Awareness
"This month we're gearing up for Paula Hawkins's mystery The Girl on the Train. Its three narrators keep readers guessing as they try to suss out who's behind one character's shocking disappearance. Can you figure out who did it before they do?"—Martha Stewart Living
“What a thriller!”—People Style Watch
“Hawkins keeps the tension ratcheted high in this thoroughly engrossing tale of intersecting strangers and intimate betrayals. Kept me guessing until the very end.”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times–bestselling author of the Detective D. D. Warren series
“I simply could not put it down.”—Tess Gerritsen, New York Times–bestselling author of the Rizzoli and Isles series
“Gripping, enthralling—a top-notch thriller and a compulsive read.”—S. J. Watson, New York Times–bestselling author of Before I Go to Sleep
“Be ready to be spellbound, ready to become as obsessed. . . . The Girl on the Train is the kind of book you’ll want to press into the hands of everyone you know, just so they can share your obsession and you can relive it.”—Laura Kasischke, author of The Raising
“What a group of characters, what a situation, what a book! It’s Alfred Hitchcock for a new generation and a new era.”—Terry Hayes, author of I Am Pilgrim
“Artfully crafted and utterly riveting. The Girl on the Train’s clever structure and expert pacing will keep you perched on the edge of your seat, but it’s Hawkins’s deft, empathetic characterization that will leave you pondering this harrowing, thought-provoking story about the power of memory and the danger of envy.”—Kimberly McCreight, New York Times–bestselling author of Reconstructing Amelia
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Top Customer Reviews
While an existentialist reviewer may fault the three women for their many selfish, self-destructive acts, an insightful psychological reviewer would also point out that unresolved grief is the dangerous undertow of Hawkins’s novel. Sociologists might further note that modern women, who are juggling career, marriage, and motherhood—usually with inadequate help from even the best of husbands—are more than the scarlet letter A (for adulteress or alcoholic) assigned them when they derail.
Plot is the engine of this and other Agatha Christy-like “who dunnit” novels and “appearance versus reality” is the literary motif that rattles and reveals itself throughout. Hawkins excels in describing how alcohol and its “ism and “ic” wreck and deconstruct a fragile life, generating an avalanche of deceptions, dependency, and disgust from friends, co-workers, and police. Initially, the novel chugs along slowly, but the pacing of the novel picks up midway (even though Rachel’s incessant drinking begins to grate on both her fictional roommate and the reader). While the author does not offer the reader the dazzling, memorable prose of say a Sebastian Barry ("The Sacred Scripture") or a Richard Flanagan ("Narrow Rose to the Deep North"), and all three narrators surprisingly have no linguistic variations in their speech or vocabulary, sounding as if the same character is reflecting on her three misspent lives, Hawkins skillfully raises the question of how women destroy themselves by engaging in dangerous liaisons when they permit the less fair sex and false cultural norms to define and govern their worth. What lies beneath the depiction of the three women is the sketch of the bad husband—the devious kind like Charles Boyer portrayed in the film “Gaslight,” opposite the sublime Ingrid Bergman. Adding this novel to a college syllabus will ensure a spirited discussion on the power of gender roles and destruction of identity in bad marriages.
Because Madame Bovary and Anna Karenina are corseted and confined by a patriarchal society, which does not permit divorce or a career, they are, in a sense, historically and economically trapped in loveless marriages. Desperate, they choose suicide as their tragic way out. It's a stinging criticism of modern life that two women are so damaged by past trauma, so lacking in fortitude or faith, and so isolated from the family and community support needed to overcome their suffering, that they become ensnared instead in unhealthy relationships with domineering, manipulative men. This novel is a cautionary tale for young women and their parents, as well as a cry for funding for mental health care.
Discerning readers will note a plot gaffe: Why wasn't Rachel and Tom's home sold during the divorce--and why wasn't Rachel awarded half the money from the sale? I can't imagine Anna, the second wife, living in the ex-wife's home. Are wives just slots to be exchanged and filled? Is Tom so devastatingly attractive that women commit adultery with him without compunction? Where is the feminist solidarity? (Remember how appalled women were upon discovering that John Edwards, a presidential candidate, had an affair with a massage therapist while his wife suffered from breast cancer).
Are other readers puzzled (and disappointed) that the novel was not titled "The Woman on the Train", caboosing perhaps onto Gillian Flynn’s less appealing sociopathic bestseller?
This is a story about a drunk and a hyper-sexed suburban housewife. First, a reader cannot really care about any of the sad and sick characters in the book; second, there is no suspense -- you know the plot line and conclusion within the first 100 pages; and third, a reader has only one thing to sustain himself -- how long will it take the drunk to remember? It is a pointless story with prosaic prose (not a single highlighted sentence in my copy!) and paper-thin characters. I
I cannot think of a single redeeming quality about this book except that it did not go on any longer. Had it ended in the first 25 pages, I would have been grateful to the author for putting me out of my misery associated with buying this book!!
Unless you are hankering to be bored or fall into a deep slumber while reading this book, do not buy or read it.
I would never have picked up this book on my own after my experience of reading Gone Girl except it was a selection of my book club. Any book that is compared to Gone Girl will be a book that I will strike from my list of possible reads. Girl on a Train also has one of the worst covers that I have ever seen. The lettering on the cover is probably very effective in trying to give a feeling of motion because it gives me motion sickness every time I look at it.
This book was not an enjoyable read for me. I don't like unreliable narrators. I don't like books filled with unsympathetic characters. I don't like books that flip back and forth with time. I cannot recommend this book to anyone unless you enjoy the things that I don't.