Wow. Ever sit down with a new book, thinking, “I’ll read the first few chapters, then I’ll go do [fill in the blank]” and then you end up not moving for four hours because the book is just that good? It happened to me on Saturday. We’d gotten a copy of The Girl on the Train at the library and I’d heard good things about it, so I checked it out to read. The writer’s name is Paula Hawkins, and this was her first novel – so you never know, right?
Wow. (I think I said that already.) The girl on the train is Rachel, a woman who’s lost her husband and her job due to her alcoholism. She continues to ride the train into London every day, because she’s afraid to tell her roommate that she’s unemployed. As the train passes through the suburbs it slows and often stops at a crossing, and Rachel has the chance to watch a couple in their back garden. She gives them names and imagines an idyllic life for them, transferring what she wishes she still had with her husband to the couple.
Then one day she sees something she shouldn’t have. Or does she? She’s an alcoholic, she has blackouts, she’s an unreliable witness. She goes to the police, but doesn’t think they believe her. She decides to take matters into her own hands – and the consequences are severe.
This is a terrific psychological thriller – not psychological horror, like Stephen King or Dean Koontz can be, but an entirely believable story about entirely believable people whose lives disintegrate in entirely believable ways. I could not put it down. There’s not a word wasted in this book. Hawkins was a journalist first, I believe (and may still be), which probably accounts for that.
In case you can’t tell, I highly recommend The Girl on the Train!