On the surface, Rachel, the girl on the train, appears to be the ordinary commuter. Catching the same train every day, she observes life and in particular, the life of those who live in the trackside houses. Her journey provides an escape, it allows her to break away from her compulsive drinking, self-pitying and relentless thoughts of her ex-husband, Tom, and his new family – living in their old home.
‘Jess and Jason’, a beautiful couple whose terrace balcony can be seen from the train, provide much entertainment for Rachel’s imagination – she feels as though she knows the intricate details of their perfect life at 15 Blenheim Road. Staggering through each day, Rachel provides an obsessive account of the couple’s life, as she images it. One day, she is shocked by what she sees. Shortly afterwards, she recognises the face of ‘Jess’ on the front of a newspaper – she has vanished. Between her alcoholism and blackouts, Rachel becomes knotted in the lives of the couple, attempting to tell the police everything she knows: the blue dress, the red-haired man, the underpass, her bleeding lip.
Emulating Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, Hawkins demonstrates the gripping nature of juggling perspectives, including the flawed and undependable protagonist. The Girl on the Train builds unanticipated empathy, alluring characters, enthralling twists, guesses and second guesses.