Book title: The Girl on the Train
Genre: Fiction, Mystey, Trailer
Author: Paula Hawkins
Date of discussion: 28 June 2015
Venue: Zest Cafe & Restaurant, Bangsar South
Average rating: 6.7/10
Described as a debut psychological thriller that will change the way you look at other people’s lives, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins begins in a mundane kind of way.
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 having breakfast on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them.
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.
While some described the book as dull in the beginning, the pace sped up in the second half of the book and gets riveting as the story slowly unfolds — full of deceit, deception and fraud.
The Girl on the Train is told from three different points of view; Anna’s, Megan’s and, of course, Rachel’s, while bouncing back and forth in time. This, we all agreed unanimously could get quite confusing for the reader. It quickly becomes evident at various points in the narrative that all three women are mistaken or lying about what is happening at any given moment. They aren’t the only ones, though. It also becomes clear that maybe — just maybe — Rachel isn’t entirely at fault for her current situation. Still, she may be guilty of murder. Or maybe not.
During the book discussion, we tackled issues such as the kind of secrets (if any) that we keep from our partner. Should we tell them everything or are some things better left unsaid? Is it better to keep the peace and live with a certain amount of guilt on our conscience or to rock the boat in order to lay everything out on the table?
We also delved into the topic of motherhood as the three main women in this story have deep emotions and different experiences in connection to this – infertility, the death of a child and being a mother to a young toddler. We spoke about how motherhood can define women’s lives and touched on what exactly society expects from women’s domestic lives, whether as wives, mothers or unmarried women in general.
Trust was another topic we touched on. Thinking about trust in The Girl on the Train, who trusts whom? Who is deserving of trust? 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?
In conclusion, we all agreed that Hawkins has crafted her bestseller with twists, turns and sleights of hand that makes this thriller a pleasure to read and wonder at.
“Hollowness: that I understand. I’m starting to believe that there isn’t anything you can do to fix it. That’s what I’ve taken from the therapy sessions: the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mold yourself through the gaps”
― Paula Hawkins, The Girl on the Train
Featured image sourced from: Page to Premiere
I’ve started featuring Vivian’s book discussion summaries because I thought she did such a wonderful job of recapping the book, and the topics that come up during the discussion. I hope you got some further insight into the book and some additional triggers or food for thought.
By the way, who’s excited about the upcoming movie based on the book? I know I am! When I first read the book I knew it would make a good movie because of all the dramatics and suspense. The release date is on 7 October 2016 and the movie is starring Emily Blunt (Rachel), Rebecca Ferguson (Anna), Justin Theroux (Tom), Haley Bennett (Megan), Luke Evans (Scott), Edgar Ramirez (Dr. Kamal) and Lisa Kudrow (Monica).
Watch the trailer below: