The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins #RockMyStyleBookClub

RMS Book Club: The Girl On The Train

Author: Miranda Eason

As someone who loves a keeps-you-guessing edge-of-your-seat no-sleep-until-you’ve read-the-last-word thriller I’ve been dying to read The Girl On The Train, this month’s RMS book club book, ever since the This year’s Gone Girl reviews started coming in.

The girl, well woman, behind The Girl On The Train is Paula Hawkins, a London-based former journalist who wrote a series of romantic fiction books under the pseudonym Amy Silver before writing TGOTT. The movie rights were snapped up by Dreamworks before it was published, only adding to the buzz.

The book’s central character is Rachel, who catches the same commuter train into London every morning. Every morning the train stops at the same signal, overlooking a row of suburban back gardens. So far, so normal. Although Rachel isn’t as normal as she first appears, as we soon find out.

Rachel becomes fascinated with a couple who live in one of the houses she passes every day. She feels as if she knows them and has even made up names for them: Jess and Jason – perfect alliterative names for a couple whose life, at least from the outside, appears to be just as perfect.

One day Rachel sees something from the train that shocks her and, shortly afterwards ‘Jess’ disappears. Rachel becomes obsessed with solving the mystery and even thinks she might somehow have been involved.

Two other women, Megan and Anna, share narrating duties with Rachel, and the timeline flits back and forth, from May 2012 to September 2013. As the story progresses we realize that the women’s lives are intertwined and they become increasingly so. The pace builds as the book hurtles towards its final shocking chapter.

Like Reese Witherspoon who said on Instagram, alongside a picture of a copy of TGOTT “I don’t know who you are #PaulaHawkins but you kept me up all night reading! #TheGirlOnTheTrain #PageTurner #BookClub” I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep until I got to the very last page. I was so desperate to find out what had happened that I was practically skim reading by the end and had to go back and read some sections again. Reese is right, it really is a (very well written and plotted) #PageTurner and I was totally swept along by all the twists and turns. Despite Rachel being a deeply flawed character (and that’s being kind) I grew to like her even though she was a (very) unreliable narrator. Yes, another one, but for different reasons than Elizabeth Is Missing’s Maud.

Although TGOTT is a thriller and a very readable one at that, it has serious points to make about perception versus reality and how other people’s lives are probably not as perfect as they appear to be from the outside, something that’s definitely worth remembering in 2015, when the lives we show and/or see on social media are edited and filtered to the point where they often don’t resemble real life at all. Also about how our experiences shape us and whether we can move on from them and find another path.

The only thing I wasn’t happy with, and I’m going to try and say this without any spoilers for anyone who’s reading this but hasn’t read the book, is that the bit when the person who has done the terrible thing confesses all felt a bit odd. Like would they really have explained in such detail everything that led up to the terrible thing? I realise that as readers we needed to know what went down but I wondered if there might have been some other way of telling us. It just felt a bit clunky. However, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and will be recommending it to everyone I know. I’m very much looking forward to seeing the film and can’t wait to find out what you all thought.

Did you love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between? Did it leave you sleep deprived? Annoyed? Was it believable? As much as a OMG thriller can be believable of course. Did you like Rachel? What about Megan? And Anna? And how did you feel about the person who did the very terrible thing? Ever made up names, heck even whole lives, for people you don’t really know? (I have). And who on earth will play Rachel in the film version? What about the themes that the book touches upon? There is much to discuss. Not least what we should read for next month. Leave any suggestions below. Can’t wait to catch up with all book-related chat this evening!

Born in Yorkshire. Lives in East London. California girl at heart.
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32 thoughts on “RMS Book Club: The Girl On The Train

  1. Loved it! Thought Rachel being an unreliable narrator was clever yet frustrating! Very much a page turner and whizzed through it!

  2. I whizzed through the book too, I was enthralled. I enjoyed the story being told from the three different points of view of Rachel, Megan and Anna – it really helped set the scene from each of their perspectives. I found Rachel to be rather draining on occasion but rather than this effect my enjoyment of the book I gave the author credit for putting across this feeling so well as this is obviously the effect she was having on the other characters. I found the twist/truth was very well concealed and only started to guess what had really happened a couple of chapters before it was revealed. I highly recommend TGOTT.

    1. I really liked there was three different narrators too Claire. Often when there’s more than one narrator there’s always one whose story I’m way more interested in, or one I really don’t like at all, but in this case I was interested to read all three women’s experiences. Rachel was difficult but there was just enough there to like to want her to get better. Poor Cathy!

  3. I really enjoyed this book & whizzed through it really quickly too. I agree with the comments about Rachel being draining but I also found that I was still on her side and willing her to get a grip and sort things out. I didn’t guess the twist/truth until quite near the end but on reflection there were enough subtle clues that pointed towards it that didn’t make it too far fetched. I much preferred this to Gone Girl, as I didn’t really like any of the characters in that, where as in TGOTT, the three leading women all had flaws but redeeming characteristics too.
    As for who should play them, let me think about it and update later! And yes, I have made up “lives” for people I don’t really know, a regular commute is a great time to do it!

    1. I preferred TGOTT to Gone Girl too Anna and, although I wasn’t mad on the way the truth was revealed in TGOTT it was a much more satisfactory ending for me. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who imagines whole lives for strangers too!

  4. I loved the book. I also loved gone girl so was expecting to enjoy it. The book wasn’t what I was expecting but that is not a bad thing. Trying to do this without spoilers is tricky! But I felt all was not what it seems with the ‘person who did the bad thing’ but still surprised when all came out. I thought Rachel was incredibly well written, and I was willing her to stop drinking and sort herself out. Looking forward to hearing what the next book will be! X

    1. It wasn’t what I was expecting either Emma, from what it said on the jacket I was expecting something more like Rear Window, that Rachel would witness a crime from the train, but actually I’m happy it wasn’t just Rear Window on a train! I agree, Rachel was very well written – I was really rooting for her to sort herself out too.

  5. I’m glad I read the book before seeing this as a film as I easily built up a picture of the characters. It can be difficult to read a book after seeing the film as I find I tend to force the image of the actor into my minds eye rather than letting my imagine just run with it.

    I have enjoyed procrastinating at work this morning and thinking about who could play each character. I think Honeysuckle Weeks would work as Rachel, and although Megan is a blond in the book I saw her more as a brunette and could envision Jodie Whittaker in this character. Anna took some thinking but maybe Emily Blunt?!

    Looking forward to what everyone else thinks

    1. Really glad I’ve read the book ahead of the film too Claire and hoping they make a good job of turning it into a movie. Excellent choices on who should play who, Honeysuckle Weeks and Jodie Whittaker particularly inspired!

  6. I really enjoyed TGOTT – it happily coincided with a nasty virus I caught which equated to a couple of days off work in which a read the whole thing! Very well written, again like others I found Rachel draining however was pleased by then end when she got herself together! I flitted between suspecting different people of ‘the terrible thing’…and I understand what you mean when the reveal is a bit clunky…I tried to read it as a narcissist dying to reveal all because they are so proud of what they’ve done and how they concealed it.
    Have to say though that I enjoyed Gone Girl more…I found that truly shocking in parts and the film interpretation stuck closer to the book than any other book-to-film I’ve seen!
    Overall I’ve enjoyed all the books in the RMS BC so far…looking forward to the next read 🙂

    1. I’m sorry to hear you’ve been sick Annie, but happy that it gave you time to read the book! Yes, they could very well be a narcissist, very good way to read it, will be interesting to see how they handle it in the film. I was very happy with the film adaptation of Gone Girl, one of the best, closest to the source and how I’d imagined it, film adaptions I’ve seen.

  7. I’m another big fan of the book, couldnt put it down and flew through it.

    I picked it up without reading any reviews or commentary (which quite often lead me to start second guessing plot lines) and i’m so glad I did – the revelations unfolded for me beautifully as the clues were dropped in here and there.

    Although Rachel is a total mess, I too found her to be incredibly well written and despite her flaws I was rooting for her. I’m not sure if it’s more a reflection on me, but that pit of the stomach dread of ‘Oh God what on earth happened last night’ was admittedly recognisable… thankfully never with such terrible consequences! xx

    1. Haha, I’ve definitely had that too Karen, that do I have my phone and purse panic…

  8. I totally agree Karen! There’s nothing as bad as hangover paranoia!
    I can say that I also flew through the book and I haven’t read a novel that I couldn’t put down for a long time. However I was so disappointed with the ending and was looking for something a bit more unexpected. I would still whole heartedly recommend though and this is the perfect beach holiday read. Will wait in anticipation for the film 🙂 xx

    1. Hannah – i’m with you there, i’m almost disappointed that I probably wont find a better holiday read for my actual holiday. Anyone got any beach-book recommendations? I feel like i’ve read everything!! x

    2. Agree, it’s the perfect holiday read Hannah. Kinda envious of all those people who’ll get to read it on a beach somewhere sunny! xx

      1. Ladies…I followed Girl on a Train (which I loved) with The Ice Twins and then Disclaimer. I enjoyed both but I couldn’t put Disclaimer down…brilliant concept. X

        1. Ooh good tips, thanks Linz! Currently reading a lot of Samantha Hayes… another good one for a bit of suspense and an entertaining read x

  9. I enjoyed the book but I agree the ending felt a bit clunky, a bit Scooby Doo! It was a good read but I don’t think it’ll go down as a classic that I recommend to others (like I would with Gone Girl).

    1. Haha, yes, a bit Scooby Doo was right, “And I would have gotten away with it, if it hadn’t have been for my pesky meddling [insert person here].” But am liking Annie’s narcissist theory.

  10. It was a real page turner – I lost the best part of a Sunday – I kept thinking, just one more chapter …… ! I loved the writing style, and that each character gave a little more of the picture. The character of Rachel was well written, I found myself sympathising with her and being frustrated with her in equal measures! I do think the ending was a bit rushed – I love the Scooby Doo description by Laura . It’s ages since I’ve been quite as drawn into a book and one I’ve bought for a couple of friends as a must read!

    1. It definitely had that, just one more page quality too it Toria. I’m very bad for just keeping going until I’ve finished a book like that, then I get annoyed with myself for rushing through it all in one go!

  11. I liked the book a lot, very well written characters! Especially Rachel. I didn’t guess what happened until the end, maybe because I read the book so quickly 😉
    I don’t know if I will watch the movie though, I can’t see it working as good as the book. But I’m also curious about the actresses.
    Really excited about the next book! 🙂

    1. I’m with you Silke I didn’t guess the ending and I think the speed I was reading the book probably had something to do with that!

  12. Loved this book! Read it in less than a week and was a nice easy read after TKAMB. I found the story was so gripping and I have to applaud the author for writing such a page turner. Rachel was a frustrating narrator but I guess that was conveying how unreliable she was. I agree with everyone that the end seemed a little disappointing and I wish the confrontation scene was a little realistic and thrilling. But overall I will be definitely recommending this book to friends and family. Now I need a new book to download on to my Kindle for my trip to Rome next week…?! Thanks for another great book RMS. 🙂

    1. Yes, they were a good contrast to read one after the other. I’m a bit stuck with what to read next Rose. I’ve just bought myself Fierce Medicine by yoga pioneer Ana T Forrest, which I think is a mixture of autobiography, yoga poses broken down and general life inspiration, interesting to me, but probably not a RMS book club book!

  13. The book was a really good choice for the book club! My husband had bought it already on kindle and I saw lots of reviews in magazines, but I wasn’t interested in it before it was the book of the month in the book club. So as we already had the book, I started to read it immediately and couldn’t stop. The writing is really good.
    The fact that Rachel had this alcohol problem was a little frustrating for me, as she tried to stop, but never managed it. It was sad to read how she drank on the train, in the park, in her bed, etc.
    When I finished the book, I actually wondered if this could be a movie. However, my first thought was that it cannot work as well as in the book, as there are a lot of thoughts in the book and you cannot play all the things that are going on in the heads of Rachel, Megan and Anna. As an actress, I thought it has to be a Rene Zellweger 2.0, as Rachel was described to have a little too much weight. Whoever will play the part of Rachel will have to gain some weight for this role.
    I told all my friends of the book and recommended it to them.
    And here my suggestions for the next month: The Rosie Project (a friend of mine really liked it).Dark Places by Gillian Flynn (I read that on holidays and enjoyed it).

  14. Can I suggest Sisterland by Curtis Sittenfeld for the next read? It’s sitting on my bookshelf waiting to be read and sounds pretty good

  15. Was a decision reached about the next book? Having reached the end of this one today and enjoyed it more than I thought it would I’m looking for something else to read.

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