The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins  » Books  »
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  • So far, so good, and it seemed worth the modest price when I saw the paperback in a charity shop
  • I won’t summarise the plot, partly because it’s too detailed and partly because it would be a spoiler, but the action hinges on what the main protagonist, Rachel, sees from the train during one of her daily commutes from the London suburbs
  • Rachel and the other protagonists – Meghan, Tom, Scott, Anna – are intricately bound together but frankly I couldn’t really care that much what happened to any of them

    • by villager.18
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      This was a best-selling novel written by UK author Paula Hawkins in 2015. Something of a publishing sensation for a first novel, it was top of the New York Times fiction best-selling list for 13 weeks and has since been made into a film starring Emily Blunt. So far, so good, and it seemed worth the modest price when I saw the paperback in a charity shop.

      Well I’m glad I didn’t pay full price for it. It’s an average thriller, enjoyable in its way, but ultimately disappointing because after all the hype I had expected something more. I won’t summarise the plot, partly


      because it’s too detailed and partly because it would be a spoiler, but the action hinges on what the main protagonist, Rachel, sees from the train during one of her daily commutes from the London suburbs. This is a good premise for a thriller, with its notion of a fleeting glimpse, real or unreal, important or insignificant, lives touching briefly then veering away. To give due credit to the author, she handles the material very well, starting from the image from the train window and gradually developing the plot in a way that keeps the reader turning the pages. The structure is not linear, moving backwards and forward through different time frames, and is given further complexity as the narrative, always in the first person, is taken up by different characters. This layering of time and voice adds to the dramatic tension but could easily have become a mess. It never does and that is one of the strengths of the book.

      So what didn’t I like? Rachel is a drunk and the whole story hinges on that. Basically, if she’d been sober there would have been no story. As a device it lacks depth and interest, and her motivation for action is trying to piece together ...


      • The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
      isolated bits of events into a coherent whole. Of course that is what a detective novel does, but then the detective process itself provides the interest through the personality of the detective and the methods used. With Rachel we are just waiting for her to sober up. It has been billed as a “psychological thriller” but the psychological behaviour is only obvious after the action has been played out and is not integral to the development.

      And sadly I didn’t really like the characters. Rachel and the other protagonists – Meghan, Tom, Scott, Anna – are intricately bound together but frankly I

      couldn’t really care that much what happened to any of them. By the end, when all was revealed, I could close the book and not think about them again. Novel characters do not need to be angelic or heroic to capture the reader’s sympathies, but they do need to come alive – that is a writer’s skill – and here they are too two-dimensional to be memorable.

      So a good book, well-constructed, but far from great. It’s sufficiently engaging if you have time to spend at an airport (or on a train!) but I do expect more from a novel, especially in terms of character development.




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The review was published as it's written by reviewer in March, 2018. The reviewer certified that no compensation was received from the reviewed item producer, trademark owner or any other institution, related with the item reviewed. The site is not responsible for the mistakes made. 1729031663300631/k2311a0329/3.29.18
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