Book review: The girl on the train by Paula Hawkins

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I’d heard a lot about this book.

Shortly after publication came the chat about the film version.

Paula Hawkins had seemingly come out of nowhere with a best-seller, though I believe the former journalist battled for years to be heard, just like so many others.

But only recently did I sit down to read the book, which although I had heard about by reputation, knew very little about story-wise - so it surprised me.

This is not as I presumed, merely an clever observational piece from the perspective of a girl on a train.

Indeed this is a twisting thriller, moving quickly from character to character with pace and just enough clues to start you guessing how the strands may possibly come together.

The time-shifting narrative is split between three women - Rachel, Anna and Megan - whose lives touch each other. You have to concentrate to see their paths as they start to move together.

Rachel is at the heart of the piece, a protaganist who is not so much flawed as a walking disaster, mired in alcoholism and with zero self worth - she is a shadow of her former self and it is those very shadows which form the base of this novel.

In places difficult to read, Rachel’s story of descent could so easily be any of us, but yet self affirming through her gradual realisation that her very observations could solve the mysteries weaving through multiple lives.

Her epiphanies come through repeatedly riding the rail route to work she no longer needs to travel.

How she uses this information leads through a mired world, one which she has little desire to face yet is compelled to do so.

Without giving away the story, this is a page-turner with just the right amount of mystery to keep you guessing, plenty of dark with chinks of light, all told from a perspective that made it a breath of fresh air.

I look forward to the film.