The Girl on the Train (novel)
First edition (US)
with quote from Tess Gerritsen
|Audio read by|
|Published||13 January 2015 (Riverhead Books, US)
15 January 2015 (Doubleday, UK)
|Media type||Print (Hardback)|
The Girl on the Train (2015) is a psychological thriller novel by British author Paula Hawkins. The novel debuted at No. 1 on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 list (combined print and e-book) dated February 1, 2015, and remained in the top position for 13 consecutive weeks, until April 2015. In January 2016 it became the No.1 bestseller again for two weeks. Many reviews referred to the book as "the next Gone Girl", referring to a popular 2012 psychological mystery with similar themes and use of unreliable narrators.
By early March 2015, the novel had sold over 1 million copies, and 1.5 million by April. It has occupied the number one spot of the UK hardback book chart for 20 weeks, the longest any book has ever held the top spot. By early August 2015, the book had sold more than 3 million copies in the US alone, and, by October 2016, an estimated 15 million copies worldwide. The audiobook edition, narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher (released by Books on Tape) won the 2016 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year.
The story is a first-person narrative told from the point of view of three women: Rachel, Anna, and Megan.
Rachel Watson is a 32-year-old alcoholic reeling from the dissolution of her marriage to Tom, who left her for another woman, Anna Watson. Rachel's drinking has caused her to lose her job; she frequently binges and has blackouts. While drunk, she often harasses Tom by phone and sometimes even in person, though she has little or no memory of these acts once she sobers up. Tom is now married to Anna and has a daughter with her, Evie – a situation that fuels Rachel's self-destructive tendencies, as it was her inability to conceive a child that began her spiral into alcoholism. Concealing her unemployment from her flatmate, Rachel follows her old routine of taking the train to London every day; her train slowly passes her old house, which is now occupied by Tom, Anna, and Evie. She also begins watching from the train an attractive couple who live a few houses away from Tom, fantasising about their perfect life together. Rachel has never met them and has no idea that their life is far from perfect, or that the woman, Megan Hipwell, helps Anna care for her child.
Megan outwardly seems perfect to Rachel — beautiful, apparently happy, and married to a handsome, devoted man. However, Megan has a troubled past that she conceals from everyone who knows her and which gives her severe insomnia. She secretly finds her life boring and shallow, and escapes from her troubles by taking a series of lovers. She has sought help by seeing a therapist, Dr. Kamal Abdic, whom she would like to seduce. Eventually, she reveals to him a dark secret she has never confided to anyone before.
Anna is young, beautiful, very much in love with Tom, and happy as a stay-at-home mother to the young Evie. While at first she enjoyed the idea of parading her conquest of Tom in front of Rachel, as a way to show that he picked her over Rachel, she eventually becomes furious at Rachel's harassment of her and her family, and wants to move from Rachel's former house and report Rachel's stalking to the police. Anna views Rachel as a threat to her family and home, and particularly dreads Rachel's presence because Rachel entered their home, picked up Evie, and walked outside with her one day.
One day, Rachel is stunned to see Megan kissing a man other than her husband. The next day, after a night of heavy drinking, Rachel awakens to find herself bloody and injured, with no memories of the night before but certain that she has done something she will regret. Soon, she learns that one of the top stories of the day is that Megan is missing. Rachel is questioned by the police after Anna reports having seen her staggering around drunk in the area the night of Megan's disappearance. Rachel starts to become interested in the missing persons case. She contacts the police to tell them she thinks Megan was having an affair, because she was watching her every morning and evening from the train, and then she contacts Megan's husband, Scott. Rachel lies and tells Scott she and Megan were friends, and she tells him her thoughts about the affair. Rachel learns that the man she saw kissing Megan the day she disappeared was Kamal.
Rachel contacts Kamal, lying about her true identity and background as part of a ruse to get close to him and learn more about him. She makes a therapy appointment with him, ostensibly to see if he can help her to recall the events that happened during her blackout the night of the disappearance. While Kamal suspects nothing, Rachel begins to gain insights into her life by speaking with him, inadvertently benefiting from her therapy. Her connections to Scott and Kamal, though built on lies, make her feel more important. She ends up not drinking for several days at a time but always relapses. Meanwhile, she continues to call, visit, and harass Tom and his new family. Then Megan's body is found; she is revealed to have been pregnant, and her unborn child was fathered by neither Scott nor Kamal. As Scott discovers Rachel's lies and lashes out at her, her memories of the night of the incident become clearer. Rachel remembers seeing Megan get into Tom's car. At the same time, Anna discovers that Tom and Megan were having an affair.
These associations enable Rachel to trust her own memories more, and she realises that many of the crazy things Tom told her she did while drunk, but that she doesn't remember doing, never really happened. He had been gaslighting her for years, which affected her belief in herself and made her question her sanity. Armed with this sad realisation, and the knowledge that he must have been the one who killed Megan, Rachel warns Anna. When Anna confronts him, Tom confesses to murdering Megan after she threatened to reveal that he had impregnated her. Anna is cowed, fearful for her daughter's safety. Although Tom tries to beat and intimidate Rachel into keeping silent, she defies him and fights back. Knowing he is about to kill her, Rachel stabs Tom in the neck with a corkscrew. Anna helps Rachel make sure that he dies from the wound. When the police arrive, former adversaries Rachel and Anna coordinate their stories to support their actions' having been in self-defence.
The Girl on the Train received mostly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. In 2015 it became the fastest-selling adult hardcover novel in history, and it spent over four months on the New York Times Bestseller List following its release. Kirkus Reviews praised the novel with a starred review, writing that "even the most astute readers will be in for a shock as Hawkins slowly unspools the facts, exposing the harsh realities of love and obsession’s inescapable links to violence." Subsequently, the novel was honored by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best books of 2015, in the fiction category. The book also won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award in the category Mystery & Thriller.
In a less positive review for The New York Times, Jean Hanff Korelitz questioned the novel's narrative structure and criticised the protagonist for behaving "illogically, self-destructively, and narcissistically."
The Girl on the Train has been compared frequently to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, as both novels employ unreliable narrators and deal with suburban life. Paula Hawkins has waved these comparisons off, however, saying in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: "Amy Dunne is a psychopath, an incredibly controlling and manipulative, smart, cunning woman. (Rachel is) just a mess who can’t do anything right."
The foreign rights have been sold in 34 countries, and the book has been translated into many languages, including:
|French||Sonatine Éditions||La Fille du train||Corinne Daniellot|
|German||Random House||Girl on the Train||Christoph Göhler|
|Bahasa Indonesia||Noura Books Publishing||The Girl on The Train||Inggrid Nimpoeno|
|Italian||Piemme||La ragazza del treno||B. Porteri|
|Polish||Świat Książki||Dziewczyna z pociągu||Jan Kraśko|
|Portuguese||Topseller||A Rapariga no Comboio||José João Letria (revised by Diogo Montenegro)|
|Spanish||Editorial Planeta||La Chica del Tren||Aleix Montoto|
|Turkish||İthaki Publishing-house||Trendeki Kız||Aslıhan Kuzucan|
|Traditional Chinese||Eurasian Publishing Group and Sole Press||列車上的女孩||Wang Xinxin|
|Vietnamese||Nhã Nam||Cô gái trên tàu||Huyền Vũ|
|Romanian||Editura Trei||Fata din tren||Ionela Chirila|
|Bengali||Batighar Prokashoni||The Girl on The Train||Kishor Pasha Imon|
|Hebrew||Keter-Books||הבחורה על הרכבת||Hadasa Handler|
|Slovene||Mladinska knjiga Založba||Dekle na vlaku||Alenka Ropret
Arabic:Translated by AL Harth AL Nabhan and called فتاة القطار
The film rights for the novel were acquired in March 2014 by DreamWorks Pictures and Marc Platt Productions, with Jared Leboff (a producer at Marc Platt) set to produce. Tate Taylor, who directed The Help (2011), was announced as the director of this film in May 2015, with Erin Cressida Wilson as scriptwriter. In June 2015, British actress Emily Blunt was in talks to portray Rachel. Author Hawkins said in July 2015 that the film's setting would be moved from the UK to the US. The film began production in the New York City area in October 2015. The film was released on 7 October 2016. It remains mostly faithful to events in the book, apart from Rachel's realisation of the truth of Tom's accusations of her behaviour not being triggered by her own efforts, but through a chance meeting with the wife of Tom's former manager, who reveals that Tom was actually fired from his job because of his numerous affairs at the office, rather than Rachel's having a violent breakdown at a party. (In reality, Rachel simply drank too much and passed out in a guest room, until Tom made her leave.)
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- Wall Street Journal (10 October 2016) What Paula Hawkins Thinks of 'The Girl on the Train' Movie 'Of course I was nervous,' says Paula Hawkins, author of 'The Girl on the Train', which has sold more than 15 million copies around the world.'
- "Meet the Cast: The girls from Paula Hawkins' THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Exclusive Audio Clips) | Books on Tape". Retrieved 2017-01-01.
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- Edizioni Piemme. "La ragazza del treno". Edizioni Piemme.
- "Dekle na vlaku". Mladinska knjiga (in Slovenian). Retrieved 2016-09-18.
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- Kroll, Justin. "Emily Blunt in Talks to Star in The Girl on the Train Adaptation". Variety. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
- Pulver, Andrew (13 July 2015). "The Girl on the Train film to be set in US not UK". The Guardian.
- "Casting Featured Male Role in DreamWorks Pictures The Girl On The Train Starring Emily Blunt & Chris Evans". Retrieved 6 December 2015.
- McNary, Dave (6 December 2015). "Universal Boards Emily Blunt's Girl on the Train". Variety. Retrieved 23 December 2015.