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The Girl on the Train Hardcover – January 1, 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 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
- Publisher : Riverhead Books; 3rd Printing edition (January 1, 2015)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 336 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1594633665
- ISBN-13 : 978-0857523921
- Lexile measure : HL760L
- Item Weight : 1.2 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.38 x 1.13 x 9.38 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #84,933 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top reviews from the United States
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I took this book with me on a beach vacation because I wanted something to breeze through, something to entertain me. I do not ask for much in my beach reads: plot, some coherent writing, character development. I gave this book more than a fair shot. But I'm stopping at page 175.
Poor writing, flat characters, and the author's sexist tone seeps off every page. Every female psychosis is on display here: dressing the part, feeling worthless, feeling like a child, sexual motivation behind how men act, women's revenge, "I'm a force to be reckoned with," "all these men," the list goes on....
I can't take it anymore. Life is too short to read bad books like this one.
I hate it
The story is told from alternating points of view which I liked, too.
The novel is dark and fast-paced, the characters are complex and the plot is compelling. Highly recommended for thriller fans. Five big, bright, shiny stars
Top reviews from other countries
How it got made into a film I'll never know. Poor characters and a weak ending. At one stage it felt like the book would never end.
Personally I would recommend not to waste your time with this. But it appears I am in the minority and a lot harder to please than the thousands that gave it a good review.
There’s only so much I can or will say, because I believe this book is best savoured ‘cold’ and unspoiled. We meet our narrator, Rachel, on her train commute to and from London. On most days a red signal halts the train next to a line of townhouses whose gardens run down to the track, and Rachel has become accustomed to watching the young couple who live in the nearest house. She grows fond of them; gives them names – Jess and Jason; invents histories for them, and savours their evident happiness. In their contented companionship they seem to encapsulate everything that Rachel herself has failed to achieve, lost in a haze of of a failed marriage and alcoholism – all the more so because they live just a few doors down from the house she herself lived in with her ex-husband. Jess and Jason become totemic figures to her, a reassuring sign that love can and does really exist in the world. But then, one Friday morning, Rachel sees Jess out in her garden with another man – a stranger. A kiss is exchanged. Shocked at this ugly turn of events, and moved to protect the wronged Jason, Rachel decides to intervene. But she is too late.
The reason this book keeps you reading, compulsively, greedily, is because you have three narrative strands, each of them gradually adding more pieces to the jigsaw, each of them converging slowly but surely on that moment when everything will make sense. Our three narrators are not necessarily liars, but they’re unreliable: they tell us only part of the story, or they forget; they’re driven by obsession, or they remember things mistakenly. And, as the story deepens, we come to realise that everyone has their own demons and that one’s fantasies of the perfect couple one spots from the train, in the midst of one’s own dull, unexciting life, are only that – a fantasy – perhaps darker and more dangerous than one could ever imagine.
And another thing about this book – it lingers. I feel positively tainted by its unsettling story – somehow dirty, uneasy, guilty. It’s a very strong piece of work, fast-paced and threatening, and I suggest you read it now, if you haven’t already.
For the full review, please see my blog.
One of the challenges of a story like this is whether to believe any of the multiple first person narrators. Rachel, the eponymous girl on the train, is an alcoholic who forgets bits of her life. Important bits too. The other narrators don't always tell the truth either. This may be a stylistic device but, ultimately, I want to care about characters in books, and I didn't really give a fig about what happened to any of them. The corkscrew in the neck is daft as well. It might hurt but you'd have to twist it as if pulling the cork from a nice chablis to go deep enough to cause death and most people won't behave like a bottle of wine. I can see the irony of a story involving an alcoholic finishing with a coup de corkscrew but it doesn't convince.
OK if you want to while away a few hours on a warm beach somewhere.
The novel moves backwards and forwards through time, telling the stories of three women, each in the first person, and this gives the narrative an intimacy and directness, which it might not have, if it were told in the third person.
The main protagonist, Rachel, sits on a train, watching the activities in the houses along the track, in particular, the road where she once lived happily with her husband.
As a writer, I could imagine the author sitting on that train, observing and writing what she saw, until suddenly the plot came to her.
In a voyeuristic fashion, Rachel focuses on a particular house where an apparently loving couple seem to live the sort of life that she once lived, before breaking up with her husband, and she fantasises about this other husband, and feels outrage, when it seems his trust has been broken. So far, any story is mainly in her head, but then the wife disappears, and Rachel gets involved in her disappearance.
The novel then moves back a year so that the wife - Megan - can describe her life and what happens to cause her disappearance, and eventually, half way through the book, jumping forward to the present again, Anna appears, Anna being the ‘other woman’ who is now married to Rachel’s ex-husband, Tom. The three narratives are woven together like a plait, as gradually the story takes shape, and eventually, the truth emerges.
The women’s names are all rather similar, all two syllables, and I wondered if this was deliberate, because in some respects, though on the surface apparently different, they are alike in some respects. None of them are very likeable, although once you are inside someone’s head, you can’t help having some empathy with them.
From a readability point of view, this really drew me in, but not only are the women rather unpleasant, or dysfunctional, the men aren’t very nice, either. So from that point of view, I can’t quite give it full marks, because I like to like the characters I’m spending my time with. So 9 out of 10, but probably 5 stars, here, just the same.
I should have learned not to be taken in by the number of readers who have supposedly read this book, but I have done it before with Gone Girl which was hastily discarded, as this book will be too, to the local Charity Shop!