Menu
Menu
Search
Search
Search
Close

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

We have gathered all the fantastic reviews our Book Club Members have sent us this month.

Click on each name to read the review. If you would like to become part of the Viking Book Club, sign up here >>

Expand All Collapse All

The Viking Review, by Sarah, our Marketing Executive

The Girl on the Train is an exciting and riveting read with twists and turns in every chapter. What starts as a fairly innocuous tale of three women living interweaving suburban lives, soon escalates into an ominous exploration of secrets and deceit.

The main character of the book, Rachel, is very likeable and after a few chapters of the book I was really rooting for her. Her vulnerability is often relatable.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy-to-read modern thriller set in seemingly innocent surroundings.

Ann Ryding

If you enjoy a murder story with twists and turns, this book is worth your attention. Unlike some murder mysteries when you can deduce “who dune it” half way through the book, The Girl on the Train keeps the suspense until almost the last page. A slight criticism would be that some aspects of the book are repeated several times and these could have been edited out.

Paula’s writing style flows linking the characters together. Although the character of Rachel is totally dysfunctional, Paula has managed to create a complex yet likeable person.

Overall a good read worth devoting a couple of days to enjoy but avoid reading too late at night to avoid nightmares.

Angel Catchpole

I enjoyed reading this book as I have found that I am reading psychological thrillers written by the same author, some of which then have the same main person.

I did find that Rachel was a very disturbed person as she could not cope with her marriage ending, also as she was drunk could not remember events that happened.

Although she had lost her job she still made the same train journey. Rachel had lived in one of the houses facing the train line and she took interest in the people living there.

This obsession led to her becoming involved with the events that happened.

An easy read.

I have read Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl which is a different story and would not compare with this novel as a lot of reviews have compared them.

I would read this author again.

Jennifer Harpin

This thriller is told by three main characters. Rachel, Anna and Megan. These girls all have things in their lives they would like to hide.

Rachel, the main character, has lost her job, but keeps the pretence of still working by still travelling on the train each day, as she would normally have done. She weaves stories round the people living in a row of cottages close to the railway line. But given her dependence on alcohol, how much is true? Is it just a fantasy? I was left guessing for much of the book. My feelings towards Rachel changed as the story progressed and I became more involved with her.

I found it frustrating at times reading this book. Having just become intrigued with Rachel's story it jumped to Anna and Megan and back again. For me some parts of the book dragged in the middle.

Overall I enjoyed the story, not guessing all the twists of the ending until almost finished.

Barbara Towell

A gripping novel told from an interesting perspective. In addition to being a 21st century "whodunnit?" the story effectively deals with current social issues. Like them or loathe them, the characters feel human, allowing readers to relate and empathise with their vulnerability. The author has captured a good sense of place throughout this well expressed, yet accessible page-turner. A thriller to be recommended to both women and men - and all who travel by train!!

Susan Wilson

From the start I found the book tantalising, mainly because of the construction of the narrative. It takes a little while to become accustomed to the alternating chapters between the main characters but as I progressed through the book I found this an exciting and intriguing way to follow the story. The fact that all the events revolve and develop around commuter train journeys by one individual is unique. Rachel, the main character, is a very complex and really quite disturbed young woman who is excellently portrayed by the author. You are drawn in by her strange musings on all the events that occur to make this a very thrilling drama. Her addiction to alcohol makes the drama even more complicated as her loss of memory leads to the eventual very unexpected climax.

All the characters seem very real with their various problems and the way they interact is often quite peculiar, but as you try to piece the plot together it becomes more and more exciting and disturbing. The tension builds up and you really struggle to try and work out how these tormented individuals with their difficult relationships will survive. Of course some of them don't!

It is a compelling, clever, and thrilling book. I thoroughly recommend it.

Peter Murphy

The Girl on the Train is Paula Hawkins’ first thriller and she has given us a well-written novel, which has already been optioned for film by DreamWorks. The drama is narrated from the perspective of the three main female characters, whose lives are relentlessly intertwined. Through these characters Hawkins explores some of the darker aspects of modern life such as loneliness, alcoholism, the breakdown of relationships, domestic violence and murder. She then weaves these themes into a tense and unpredictable novel.

I enjoyed this book, with all its twists and turns and can highly recommend it. However if I was asked, “Would I want to read this book on holiday?” – I think the answer would be “Not really.”

Personally, I want a holiday read to be escapist, where all the action takes place in an alternative place or time. The characters and settings in this novel are simply too real, the themes too dark.

My advice would be - read this book; it’s excellent - but think carefully before you choose it as your holiday read.

Dorothy Calderwood

I found this debut psychological thriller totally gripping and would definitely recommend it to lovers of the genre.

Rachel Watson, on the surface an ordinary woman going about her daily commute to and from work just like her fellow travellers, sees something shocking from the train window one day and, by investigating further, sets off a chain of events that no one could have anticipated.

The three narrators – Rachel, Megan and Anna – all have their flaws, some of them quite unpleasant, as do the other characters in the book. This makes each of them very credible and adds to the story’s realism.

The plot’s various twists and turns, together with the fact that at times seemingly unimportant details take on great significance, are sure to keep readers guessing. While the climax is not completely unsurprising, the author’s skill at characterisation and at creating a tense ambiance throughout, in which memory is shown to be not always totally reliable, makes up for this.

With clever casting, The Girl on the Train would make an excellent film; indeed, plans for its screening are already in motion.

Paula Hawkins is an author to watch, and I look forward to reading her future work.

Julia Cowley

The lives of three young ladies seem to be linked initially only by a railway line but as the story progresses, revealed by their diaries, greater bonds emerge, break down and re- emerge in many different and unexpected ways. Each character develops and changes through circumstance, the railway line and the impact of a common lover/ husband.

The book cleverly reveals how alcohol, media coverage and modern technology can impact on lives, changing and manipulating characters. However, after a horrific murder and much upset, the truth and strength of character of two of the young ladies is finally revealed.

A gripping, brilliantly written book, where characters become real persons and readers feel the atmosphere, the heart ache and pain, and finally the release.

Ann Cox

I found it a bit slow to begin with - but now about two thirds into it and things are slipping into place and I am finding it quite gripping and can't wait to read the rest which I am sure I will find most thrilling.

Christine Thorpe

Seen through the eyes of three women; Rachel, Megan and Anna, this thriller has a slow start. It gains speed as the reader travels with the women.

Relationships, manipulation, the search for happiness; and murder, are all part of the journey as the lives of the characters and those they touch, unfolds.

Cleverly crafted, a thriller with a difference and certainly not a book to ‘finish and forget’. A riveting read!

Jennifer Edwards

Rachel is the girl on the train and she has a secret which is gradually exposed by the other two narrators Megan and Anna. On Rachel's daily commute, the train always stops at the same signal and she starts to become obsessed with the couple whose garden backs onto the train track. The author Paula Hawkins has written the most wonderful thriller which explores the relationships between this couple and Rachel. There are three women and one man but which man?

I found myself shifting sympathies and suspicions on every page as the story unfolded. Confident and incisive weaving of the narrators’ lives narrows in on the one event which will change Rachel's life forever.

As I turned each page I found myself catching my breath as events changed and Rachel's secret became evident. All the characters, good and bad became impossibly close to the extent that I felt as if it had been me on that train living Rachel's life, surely the sign of a fabulous read!

Viking, thank you for giving me the opportunity to review this book. If you haven't already read it don't delay in picking it up, you will never travel on the train again without looking out of the window and thinking 'what if'.

Jane Carey-Harris

As a novice thriller reader, I opened this book with trepidation however was hooked from page one. Paula Hawkins prose has a wonderful flowing style, easy to follow and leading the reader on to the next section. The book focuses on Rachel, a commuter with a somewhat complex life and personality, now an alcoholic following the breakup of her relationship. Rachel commutes to London each day, passing the home she used to share with her firmer partner. She sees the same people on and from the train including a young couple, whom she names Jess and Jason.

Rachel is envious of Jess, assuming that all is well in her life. Little does she realise that Megan (Jess' real name) is herself having therapy and misses the North Norfolk life and the gallery she once worked in. Complexities continue as Megan starts to work for Rachel's ex-husband and his new wife, Anna.

Then one day, Rachel sees something from the train which she feels obliged to report to the police. The stress of this incident is balanced by Rachel reporting it to the police and becoming more than just "the girl on the train".

The plot proceeds at a fast pace, as the lives of the three female characters become more entwined. That said, this book keeps you guessing until the very end. For me, a wonderful introduction to a psychological thriller genre and I will be looking for more.

Mike Clark

The book has an interesting idea, the passenger seeing something unusual which she knows to be at odds with what she would expect to see, and I read the first 100 pages or so with some anticipation of developments. The characters, however, were very colourless. The main character, Rachel, had obviously had problems with the break-up with Tom, but she just seems to drift aimlessly, wasting her time with the false commuting, not getting to grips with her life, and resorting to drink. The other characters also were difficult to picture, the two police officers seeming to be most visible.
I struggled on, but found no interest in these unknown people. The book became one of those books which, once you put it down, is almost impossible to pick up !!! I struggled to about page 200, but could not give any useful time to continuing.
I think it might be interesting to ask those who like the book to describe the characters of Rachel, Anna, Megan etc. Did giving the chapters their named headings divert the author from filling in some colour? Sorry, not my kind of book!! Thanks for inviting me. Shall leave the book on the Viking Fontane, in June.
Top