I confess. Suspense abounds in The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, but it got so far under my skin that I couldn’t stop until I’d read the book all the way through to the end, costing myself hours of sleep. With as much as I read, this doesn’t happen very often, even with the most skillfully written thrillers.
So there’s plenty of suspense here — but not a whole lot more. The Girl on the Train was heavily marketed as the successor to Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, an amazingly well crafted thriller that has been on or near the top of national bestseller lists for a very long time. This one doesn’t measure up to that (admittedly) high and possibly unattainable standard.
This is essentially the story of three young women, told in alternating chapters from the perspective of each of the three: Rachel, a divorcee; Anna, who is married to Rachel’s ex-husband; and Megan, who lives with her own husband. Megan and Anna’s homes — the latter was Rachel’s home not long before — are situated along the tracks of the train that Rachel takes every day to and from work. Prone to fantasizing, Rachel builds an elaborate story around her daily glimpses of Megan and her husband, neither of whom she has met. The plot unfolds as the women’s stories intersect — and, you guessed it, it’s not a pretty tale.
f there’s a message in The Girl on the Train, it may be summed up in a single sentence by the author: “I have never understood how people can disregard the damage they do by following their hearts.”
Oh, and there’s another message to take from this book: beware of marketers who hype new books as “a worthy successor to [fill-in-the-blank].”
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins ★★★☆☆
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