The Girl on the Train

The Girl on the Train

by Paula Hawkins


$14.40 $16.00 Save 10% Current price is $14.4, Original price is $16. You Save 10%. View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, November 20


The #1 New York Times Bestseller, USA Today Book of the Year, now a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt. 

The debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives, from the author of Into the Water.

“Nothing is more addicting than The Girl on the Train.”—Vanity Fair

The Girl on the Train has more fun with unreliable narration than any chiller since Gone Girl. . . . [It] is liable to draw a large, bedazzled readership.”—The New York Times
“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 Boston Globe

Gone Girl fans will devour this psychological thriller.”—People 
Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning and night. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. Jess and Jason, she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel goes to the police. But is she really as unreliable as they say? Soon she is deeply entangled not only in the investigation but in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594634024
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/12/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 20,832
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller. An international #1 bestseller, published in 50 countries and over 40 languages, it has sold over 11 million copies worldwide and has been adapted into a major motion picture starring Emily Blunt. Hawkins was born in Zimbabwe and now lives in London. 

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "The Girl on the Train"
by .
Copyright © 2015 Paula Hawkins.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

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

“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."—

“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.”— 

“[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.”—

“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 

Reading Group Guide


A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people's lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut.


Paula Hawkins worked as a journalist for fifteen years before turning her hand to fiction. She lives in London. The Girl on the Train is her first thriller. It is being published all over the world and has been optioned by Dreamworks.

  1. We all do it—actively watch life around us. In this way, with her own voyeuristic curiosity, Rachel Watson is not so unusual. What do you think accounts for this nosey, all-too-human impulse? Is it more extreme in Rachel than in the average person? What is so different about her?
  2. How would you have reacted if you’d seen what Rachel did from her train window—a pile of clothes—just before the rumored disappearance of Megan Hipwell? What might you or she have done differently?
  3. In both Rachel Watson’s and Megan Hipwell’s marriages, deep secrets are kept from the husbands. Are these marriages unusual or even extreme in this way? Consider how many relationships rely on half-truths? Is it ever necessary or justifiable to lie to someone you love? How much is too much to hide from a partner?
  4. What about the lies the characters tell to themselves? In what ways is Rachel lying to herself? Do all people tell themselves lies to some degree in order to move on with their lives? Is what Rachel (or any of the other characters) is doing any different from that? How do her lies ultimately affect her and the people around her?
  5. A crucial question in The Girl on the Train is how much Rachel Watson can trust her own memory. How reliable are her observations? Yet since the relationship between truth and memory is often a slippery one, how objective or “true” can a memory, by definition, really be? Can memory lie? If so, what factors might influence it? Consider examples from the book.
  6. One of Rachel’s deepest disappointments, it turns out, is that she can’t have children. Her ex-husband Tom’s second wife Anna is the mother to a young child, Evie. How does Rachel’s inability to conceive precipitate her breakdown? How does the topic of motherhood drive the plot of the story? What do you think Paula Hawkins was trying to say about the ways motherhood can define women’s lives or what we expect from women’s domestic lives, whether as wives, mothers, or unmarried women in general?
  7. Think about trust in The Girl on the Train. Who trusts whom? Who is deserving of trust? Is Rachel Watson a very trustworthy person? Why or why not? Who appears trustworthy and is actually not? What are the skills we use to make the decision about whether to trust someone we don’t know well?
  8. Other characters in the novel make different assumptions about Rachel Watson depending on how or even where they see her. To a certain extent, she understands this and often tries to manipulate their assumptions—by appearing to be a commuter, for instance, going to work every day. Is she successful? To what degree did you make assumptions about Rachel early on based on the facts and appearances you were presented? How did those change over time and why? How did your assumptions about her affect your reading of the central mystery in the book? Did your assumptions about her change over its course? What other characters did you make assumptions about? How did your assumptions affect your interpretation of the plot? Having now finished The Girl on the Train, what surprised you the most?


Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Paula Hawkins

"There is a pile of clothing on the side of the train tracks." Of such incongruities — small irregularities in the order of the everyday — are the great works of suspense made. And what more resonant and perfect signifier of everyday orderliness than a London-bound commuter train? The legendary reliability of Britain's railroads has long made them central to detective fiction — its timetables and ticket clerks providing alibis for every modern sleuth to test.

With her debut novel, The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins begins, though, from the place where the dependable reality of the twenty-first-century morning train meets its inevitable counterpart: the commuter's daydreams as she stares out of its windows, catching snapshots of the lives that scroll past. And in the person of Rachel Watson — yes, note that last name — those daydreams have a discomfortingly obsessive edge. Brooding over a collapsed marriage and medicating her wounds with canned gin and tonics, Rachel finds herself fantasizing about the perfect couple inhabiting one suburban home she passes every morning. When one half of that couple disappears, Rachel's fixation on the pair she thinks of as "Jason and Jess" draws her into a missing-persons case that seems uncannily connected with the life she has been unable to leave behind.

The result is a tightly woven tale of voyeuristic escape, suburban secrets and hidden violence that invokes the work of Highsmith and Hitchcock, and compels an intense, single-sitting read. Paula Hawkins spoke to us from her home in London about the genesis of The Girl on the Train and the allure of that fleeting view out the window. The following is an edited transcript of our conversation. — Bill Tipper

The Barnes & Noble Review: I wanted to talk to you about looking into other people's windows — whether you're looking from a train, as the narrator of this novel is, into the houses that she's passing on the train; or, if you're walking down a city street. There's something those brief glimpses into other people's lives which is almost endlessly fascinating.

Paula Hawkins: I think that's absolutely right. Not always, but often you get a sense of connection if you recognize something, be it a print on the wall or a nice piece of furniture design, and you think, "Oh, that's really lovely; I'd like those people . . . " You almost feel like sometimes that you've made a connection with them. Obviously, in the book she's going way further than that, but I think a lot of people actually do that.

I also think there's a sense of wondering, "What would my life be like if I lived there?" I often have that when I am passing places. You look into somewhere and you think . . . you know, you can sort of imagine how you would be, what sort of person you might be if you lived in that particular house. So I think that's part of the fascination. Or, you know, what are their lives like, those people who are there? What does it say about you that you live there, or you've decorated your house in a certain way or whatever it might be.

BNR: Rachel, the main narrator of this book, goes a bit further — she sees two people and she sees the way that they are, and extrapolates a whole life for them.

PH: Obviously, she is projecting a whole lot on to them, partly because she's got herself into this situation. She's thinking about what her old life was and winds up projecting a whole load of emotion onto these people, and creating this ideal life for them, just on the basis of these little glimpses that she sees every day.

BNR: Did this story come from a similar kind of imagining? Not similar, I would hope, to Rachel's own very obsessive fantasizing — but were you looking out of a train window into the backs of people's houses and thinking about their lives?

PH: Yes, absolutely. I grew up in Africa, and then I moved to London when I was about seventeen, and I was quite lonely, and I'd left all my friends behind, and I was traveling to the college where I was studying. My train journey was on a tube (i.e., subway) train, but at one point it runs overground and really close to the backs of some apartments. They had little terraces, and people had strung up little lights, colored lights outside, or they had, you know, a table and chairs. I was worshipfully looking at these places. There was something that looked quite bohemian about them, and I could imagine, "Oh, I bet those people have got really nice lives." I could imagine having parties out there, or sitting out, you know, drinking a glass of wine, that sort of thing. I suppose that's when I first got that sense of the slightly wistful quality of looking out from a train window.

BNR: The romance of it.

PH: Yes, romanticizing. Again, that thing of "I bet my life would be so much more fun if I lived there." Rachel, who is thinking specifically about a happy relationship and a baby and all that kind of thing, is looking at it in a very specific way. But I think it could apply to anyone who is feeling perhaps a bit lonely or an outsider or what-have- you. I think this happens to a lot of people in big cities as well, doesn't it, because there is that sort of urban alienation. There's something comforting about seeing people in their homes, those little glimpses where the lights are on and they're all sort of warm and cozy inside.

BNR: Speaking of loneliness, there are three voices that move the story forward here. We have Rachel, who is looking into these lives in this suburban London neighborhood, and we quickly learn there's a couple that she sees there, and that the woman in that couple later disappears. We later hear, both from Megan, who is the woman who disappears, and also from a third voice, Anna, the woman Rachel's ex- husband has remarried. So these three women are the voices that give us the story — and they all seem very, in a sense, fearful of being alone.

PH: It's a snapshot of their lives, so we're seeing them at a particular point in which none of them is feeling secure. Rachel has lost all her hopes of domesticity — she's lost her marriage and what-have- you. Anna feels threatened by Rachel because she's hanging around. You know, she's aware that there's this Other Woman in the background. While Megan is a really restless person. So we're seeing that they are feeling rather precarious in their domestic situations.

BNR: Rachel, as we know from very early on, uses alcohol as a means of coping. Megan, on the other hand, in order to escape a haunting past, looks for escape in connections with men.

PH: I think Megan is one of those people who is constantly looking for the next best thing. Something else — or someone best — is going to come along. She is one of those people who can't quite settle on what she's got. As you say, she's trying to escape the horrible things that happened to her in her past, and I think her problem is she's constantly running from it instead of actually just confronting it.

So she tends to latch on to men in the hopes that they're going to make everything better for her, that the next relationship is going to be the one that really makes her whole and happy again. Possibly a therapist would say to her, "You've got to sort these problems out yourself; you can't keep just going to the next guy and hoping that that relationship is going to make you happy and make everything better."

BNR: Meanwhile, Rachel's early marriage has fallen apart, in part because of her drinking, but as I think you very adroitly show, it's almost impossible to sort out the chicken from the egg: Did the problems that she faced cause her to really become an alcoholic? Or did her incipient alcoholism take problems that other people could have dealt with and moved on from, and make them impossible?

PH: Absolutely. I think that's important, that we're not saying that her alcoholism has been caused by something else, because I don't think that's how it happens. I think that those various problems have exacerbated each other kind of thing, and I think that's how addiction takes root, doesn't it? Somebody else faced with her problem — the fact that she couldn't have a child — might have taken heart in the fact that she was still young. But you could see someone who is a bit hopeless, who has that particular weakness, allowing herself to slide into something.

BNR: She's stuck in that moment, in a piece of the past. But once Rachel learns that Megan — the woman that she's been watching every day as she goes by on the train and fantasizing about — has disappeared, she becomes obsessed with it, the first really "new" thing since her marriage ended. She's seen something on one of those trips that leads her to believe that she knows something about what really happened — something the police don't — and that lights a fire under her to pursue it as a mystery.

What's very psychologically compelling is the way that this new obsession only winds up leading her back to her own problem. It was fascinating to me because it connects this to some of the great works of crime and detective fiction — inevitably the investigator winds up facing her own buried problems. When you were putting this story together, did you say, "This is going to lead her full circle"?

PH: That was part of it. You talk about her being stuck. She's stuck even in terms of where she's moved. She hasn't moved far away enough. She is not allowing herself to move past this. She literally passes the houses every day on her train journey — that she doesn't actually need to take any more, because she drops her job. So she is slightly torturing herself, because, as you say, she will not move on from this idealized notion of the marriage that she had.

I think that was really important, that we're going on something of a journey with her, and although she doesn't defeat all her demons instantly, getting drawn into this mystery is actually a way in which she starts to pull herself out of the mess she's got herself into. She's lost all purpose at the beginning of the book. But solving this mystery, finding out what happened, actually gives her something to do other than just lose herself in her fantasies.

BNR: Much of Rachel's life is centered on her train commute to and from London. Of course, the title, The Girl on the Train, leads one to think about journeys, but Rachel is making only a circular journey, a journey that is, in a sense, sterile, and she has to find a way to make a different journey.

PH: Yes, to break that endless sort of cycle that she's on.

BNR: The detective novel is about a reason or discovery, finding the flaw in the plan and exposing it. But the psychological crime novel is about the past — facing it, integrating it, piecing it together, and broken memory or absent memory is where the danger lies. This is a work of memory for Rachel. She has to remember in order to solve the problem.

PH: I think it's really interesting you say that, because there are a lot of psychological thrillers that deal with memory and the problems and sort of amnesias of various sorts. I'm working on another book at the moment, and I'm interested in how the memories we have and the stories we tell about ourselves come to actually make up who we are.

So if those memories are false in some way, if we're mis-remembering, or if we're making up stories from our past, those things can fundamentally change our characters. So yes, I think that's a really interesting way of looking at it.

BNR: Those problems with memory, also, create some of that sense of uncanny in a book like this — The Girl on the Train has no supernatural element whatsoever, but it has a haunted sense about it.

PH: Yes. Definitely.

BNR: Rachel has alcoholic blackouts — one in which she believes that she smashed the wall with a golf club in a rage — though she has no precise memory of doing so. She describes the hole in the wall as a "blinded eye" that stares out at her — a dreamlike and disturbing image, and it made me think a lot about the way in which these things that we can't face from our past wind up seeping into the fabric of the rest of life.

PH: Yeah. Even though you deny it and you push it away, I think that the sense of being haunted by it is very real, and those things will push at the edges of the rest of your psyche or everything you do. We see it with Rachel. We see it with Megan perhaps even more so. That she's pushed this thing away, but it just keeps coming back to this horrible memory. It frightens her. As we said, it haunts her. It makes her so afraid that she can't sleep, and that is all about pushing a memory away.

BNR: There are three characters here, all of whom go through related processes of coming to see or understand or face something that they had denied. Did you start with one woman's story, and her demons? Did you plot out all three of them and figure out how to work them together?

PH: I started with Rachel. When first I was writing, I thought I would just write it all, from one perspective.

BNR: So it was all to be Rachel at the beginning.

PH: That was my original idea. But then I found that I really needed Megan's viewpoint. I thought it wouldn't work without Megan. So then actually, most of the book I wrote with those two. . . . I did plot it all out with those two, but then later, at probably about three-quarters of the way in, I decided that I would add Anna's voice as well. So actually, it was plotted through with Rachel and Megan, and then Anna was added.

BNR: How did Anna's voice or perspective change things?

PH: It changed Anna's character. I found that once I was in Anna's head, looking at Rachel, looking at Megan, it changed the way I felt about Anna, becomes a much darker presence, I think, by the end of the book. She starts off as he Other Woman, then she becomes the happy wife and mother, and then she becomes something quite different.

I think I felt that I needed her to see what she was seeing, too. Most of it was plotted out, but there were twists at the end. There were some changes that did just happen organically rather than being planned.

BNR: Did you surprise yourself at all? Did you at the later stages of this say, "Oh, I didn't expect this . . . "

PH: Yeah, I did. I think there's a bit at the end that I completely hadn't thought of, and then it came to me, and I was thinking, "Oh yes, that would be good." Which is a really fun thing to do! It's so enjoyable — I can't be one of those people who doesn't plot things out, because that would terrify me. But when things happen that you as the writer hadn't expected, when characters change in ways you hadn't expected them to, that's a really fantastic experience.

BNR: Are there influences or literary models that come to mind? Was this primarily a case of "Here's a story that comes to me and I'm going to follow it and see where it leads"? Or did you think, "I'd like to write a thriller" and go from there?

PH: Well, I think it's a bit of both. This is the genre that I enjoy reading. I really love psychological thrillers. There's an atmosphere of menace that I enjoy. Actually, they don't have to be driven by violence. Take Zoë Heller's Notes on a Scandal. Or Harriet Lane's Her. No one is murdered in those books or anything like that. But there's this sort of creeping sense of menace, that things are not right, things are not what they seem, people aren't what you think they are. They're not who you think them to be. I really find that fascinating.

BNR: Notes on a Scandal works wonderfully in this way — the narrator's character emerges over time as far more obsessive and disturbed than one's first glimpse.

PH: She's very sinister. It's that sort of Hitchcockian atmosphere that you often have of paranoia, of people doubting themselves. "Did I see that? Did I do that? Am I going crazy here?" I really enjoy that. I find that really compelling.

BNR: You talk about enjoying that atmosphere of menace: I read The Girl on the Train in one straight, kind of obsessive gulp, and I had that pleasurable feeling of not being able to finish until I'd seen the culmination of the stories. It's a psychological state that one kind of puts oneself into that curiously mimics the characters — the job of a reader in reading a psychological thriller is to experience a bit of the hysteria that is gripping the characters. And it turns out to be quite pleasurable.

PH: It's that feeling of not trusting anyone, suspecting everyone. I actually found when I was writing, I'd walk out and . . . go out to get something from the shops, and I'd feel quite creeped-out. I'd sort of see people and feel wary of them. I wouldn't usually. But I'd obviously got myself into that very sort of paranoid state. Which is fun when you're in the book or the writing, and then, when you step outside, it's actually less fun. You feel slightly unnerved by it.

But it's an odd thing, isn't it. I don't know why we enjoy this. I think partly it's a safe way of experiencing that hair-standing-up-on-the-back- of-your-neck kind of feeling. I suppose there's a bit of an adrenaline punch you get there that is in itself heightening.

January 20, 2015

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

The Girl on the Train: A Novel 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1725 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
COULD NOT PUT IT DOWN! What happens when you know information on a missing person but no one will believe you because you are an "unreliable witness?" That is what Rachel, the main character in this book, is going through in this thriller that is completely reminiscent of Hitchcock's Rear window. It was written from the prospectives of three different women. All characters are train wrecks waiting to happen. It was like watching a wreck happen in slow motion. There were lots of twists and turns and just when I thought I had it pegged, I would find out something else and be steered in a different direction. Though I did not care much for any of the characters, the book was extremely well written. The author did an amazing job of building the intensity of the plot. It did start a little slow, but as the story progressed, I just could not put it down! I had to find out what happened to Meghan -- the missing girl. The author also did a great job of portraying the life of an alcoholic. She hit the nail on the head with that one. Anyway, incredible job for a debut book. I absolutely will be looking for more from this author. Thanx Ms. Hawkins for a fantastic read and a night of no sleep! :~) -- SPeeD
isniffbooks More than 1 year ago
I hope unputdownable is a legit word because it most definitely describes THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN! So glad to report that THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN definitely lives up to all the pre-release buzz and anticipation! So I begin on page 1 (where else?!) and I’m reading, reading, reading — there’s just this hard-to-define quality that makes it so easy to get sucked into the story right away — and I’m turning page after page, and then, bam! The next chapter switches to someone else’s point of view. I should have expected this since the first chapter was titled Rachel, but the chapter heading was just something I noticed and promptly forgot about as I dove into the story. And I was like, who is this new person?! What about Rachel?! What is going on?! But I ended up loving how the narration changed for each chapter — it leaves readers wanting more because Hawkins often concludes chapters with mini-cliffhangers or an unexpected revelation. And speaking of narration, I really liked how things (a vague term, I know, but I don’t want to spoil anything!) were revealed. Little clues, from the past and present, that just paint a bigger picture as to who the characters are and what brought them to their present state-of-affairs. I loved how with the drop of a sentence, Hawkins could completely change what you thought was going on with someone and their situation. This same effect can also get you to empathize with an unlikable character — because these characters are definitely flawed and have their own issues and secrets. I stayed up well past midnight to finish up THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN. I will admit though, I was a tiny bit disappointed in how things were revealed (starting around page 260 or so) and wrapped up. But overall, I really enjoyed my reading experience — I even gasped aloud a few times startling my husband out of his own reading reverie. THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN is an impressive first novel and I’d definitely read whatever Hawkins writes next. As a side note, there is profanity in this book. However, the explicit language choices did make sense in character and context so, much to my surprise, it didn’t end up being an issue for me. Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The opinions are my own.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You won't be able to put this down! I felt for Rachel and mourned for all she had been through. I couldn't stop reading. An amazing book, you will tear through the chapters wanting more. I look forward to more from this author!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was so aggravated with myself for wasting my time finishing this book. None of the characters were likeable. If the train had run over all of them it would have been a better story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Slow and a bit choppy to start, the main character not remembering things became tiresome and repetitive. The story became more interesting as it went on, though. Actually seemed as though the writing got better too as the plot progressed. All in all, not bad for a debut novel, but the comparisons to "Gone Girl" are misleading. The only thing the two books have in common is the first person narration changes throughout.
mob More than 1 year ago
In spite of positive critical reviews and best seller status, I found this to be a rather dissatisfying "Gone Girl" (GG) wannabe. Without spoiling the plot for those of you who want to read it anyway, it replicates GG's basically unlikable main characters. In fact, none of the characters in this book have much going for them that way. It also copies the narrative technique of switching storytellers throughout the book. However, the switches are between three characters and uneven in the timing, so I found myself going back and forth between chapters to check on the when the particular narrative was occurring. Which brings me to a major peeve. The chapters are named with both the character name and date. However, the Table of Contets only lists the character name, so you can't go back and get a sense of timing from looking at the TOC. All you get is a list of names. Given the disjointed sequencing of the chapters, this is very frustrating. The main character and storyteller is Rachel, a young woman whose life has descended into a messy, alcoholic haze after a battle with infertility and the break-up of her marriage. Her thoughts break from reality and it can be a little difficult figuring out when she's talking in reality, her daydreams or from a drunken stupor. The other main character is Megan, a young married with a secret, and in my book, a major case of borderline personality. Another storyteller whose narrative is harder to follow than necessary. The third voice is more straightforward and doesn't have much depth. I love a good mystery and part of the enjoyment for me is figuring it all out by the end. For me, this ending cheated the reader because it didn't come from a connect-the-dots progression of events. I expected more.
Rowanhood More than 1 year ago
This book is SO AWFUL!   Super slow.  I hate that all the women in the story define their lives by the men in their lives (and I'm a man!).  You break up with someone and therefor you no longer have friends???   And of course you can't possibly move on....  The female characters in this book are so sad, it's embarrassing.  I'm more than halfway through, and I just can't anymore.  There is very little suspense.  It's a total snoozefest!  NEXT!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a thriller but more a muddled mess of skipping around from character to character and boring in it's redundancy. A real waste of money and more's the shame the time to read it. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great Read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So repetitive a scenario that boredom became routine. Very Disappointing. 1Star
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Like this book a lot, different type of plot, unfolds very well, made it fun to quess who done it. I hope to see many more books from this creative and fesh author. Great story, artfully written.
janedds More than 1 year ago
This is a very tiresome novel.  We chose it for our book club but I did not enjoy it at all and was sorry that we hadn't chosen something with more substance. Much of the dialogue is simplistic and, frankly, boring.  I'm not sure how it got to be a best seller.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book!! The characters are so disturbed yet you don't dislike them. I was unsure of who did it until the end. I couldn't put it down but at the same time, didn't want to finish it because I loved it so much!! Read this if you loved Gone Girl or The Silent Wife.
Pugs11 More than 1 year ago
Finished this book in one day, simply couldn't put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our book club chose it because of good reviews and promises that it was like GONE GIRL. Only two people gave it a 3. the rest of us found all the characters flat and unappealing with no redeeming virtues. We didn't care who did it or what happened to the protagonists.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really don't understand the great reviews for this book.  I guessed the ending almost right away.  I found the repetitive storyline to be so monotonous that I skipped the middle part of the book to go toward the ending.  I did not miss anything in between.   My guess is that the people who read this book and found it interesting, must not read many books.  If you have to read it, borrow it from someone and spend your money elsewhere.
1SatinDoll More than 1 year ago
Slow to get started, and was tempted to abandon it halfway through. However I finished ,and found it average in the end.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very, very slow for the first 100 pages with additional complications from not only different narrators but also different time periods. I never would have stuck with this if not been reading for book club. It did become more interesting after those first 100 pages but I don't think I would recommend to my friends.
ohiovalleygirl More than 1 year ago
I feel like this book insulted my intelligence.  The main character belonged in a psychiatric unit, not a train.  I kept asking myself, "Who does this?"  I was so disappointed as the reviews made it sound so good.  This book was a waste of a good idea for a book.  I wish I could get my money back. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do not spend your money on this book. The reviews are misleading. It is a dark, depressing and an ugly story. There are much better books out there such as "Defending Jacob".
bookworm919 More than 1 year ago
Why this book got so many stars is the biggest mystery of this book.  It lacked suspense or anything to hold my interest.  It was boring with totally unlikable characters that did not act in any way that made sense.  I stuck with the book because I thought there would be some payoff at the end, but no such luck.  Lackluster ending on a lackluster book. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love to read and it is seldom that I can't finish a book - but this was the exception.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Just could not get into it. I was hoping for a great read, 35 pages in i closed it, moving on to a David Baldacci,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read the entire book only because I bought it. Not one character to sympathize with. Halfway through I wanted to get off the train, but on and on I read as the story repeated itself over and over, and the train rides all melted together into one sleep inducing bad dream of a book. A friend was reading All The Light We Cannot See, and as soon as I finished this train wreck of a book I began reading Doerr's book. That novel is wonderful. I loved it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was heralded as the next gone girl, which I loved, so I was very excited. I had a lot of time to read it but I kept having to force myself into it. It was slow. Boring and just not all that interesting.