Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins is a great psychological thriller/mystery sprinkled with alcoholism, murder, adultery and deception. This best seller follows Rachel, as she commutes back and forth between her suburban town and London. Like any commuter who isn’t reading or listening to music, she day dreams gazing out the window of the train pondering or enjoying the scenery. Everyday the train stalls at the same spot and Rachel has the opportunity to admire the beautiful house that once belonged to her and Tom (now her ex-husband). New couple, Megan and Scott now occupy the house and she witnesses them everyday (on what used to be her back porch) hugging, kissing, drinking coffee etc. Rachel imagines their life to be the beautiful life that she once thought she had with Tom, but that all changes when one day she sees Megan with a man who is not Scott. Her fantasized image of the couple is now broken, (which for anyone else would just be disappointing), but for Rachel it is devastating. How could Megan do such a thing? Since Tom left Rachel for Anna while they were living in that house, Rachel reverts back to her feelings of being betrayed and transfers her anger and disappointment towards Megan.
Days later Megan is in the newspaper announced missing and the disillusioned Rachel feels as though she must get to the bottom of this. Her obsession becomes more than just a concerned citizen and border lines that of disturbing and psychotic. The novel then progresses forward unveiling dark secrets not just about Megan’s and Anna’s past but Rachel’s as well. We see Rachel’s world through wine induced glasses where even the reader doesn’t know if she is just a drunk or onto something real. As she dives deeper into the complicated web of lies and deceptions, Rachel discovers Scott has a dark past filled with control issues and rage, just like Tom. Caught in a dangerous situation with Scott, Rachel ultimately begins to uncover the truth of what she already knows but was buried underneath her hangover after hangover. Ultimately Megan’s body appears in the woods and Scott is now the major suspect. Statements of Tom being abusive, a sex-addict and more become relevant, and Anna (Tom’s new wife) no longer knows if she is safe.
What is real and who should you trust becomes the theme, leaving every character strong and yet vulnerable. At times sad, emotional and perplexing this novel definitely keeps the reader guessing, feeling and pondering….Did she? Did he? Will she? Will he? How? When? Why? Is this real or just the alcohol? Can Rachel untangle this complicated web of lies and reveal the truth or die trying? The ending is heartbreaking and encouraging for the main character. I recommend this novel as a great fall read… especially if you’re a daily commuter. Enjoy!