The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins Book Review

The Girl On The Train Book Review: The Girl On The Train focuses on no centralized theme, rather the theme revolves around various topics. The very first theme talks about betrayal. In various instances of The Girl On The Train, we can notice characters who in their dishonest manner have tried to deceit the other characters of the novel. Characters betray their loved ones by lying to them.

The Girl On The Train Book Review

Tom being the most deceitful person betrays his first wife, Rachel, by having an affair with Anna who later becomes his wife after Rachel. Despite the love Rachel vested on Tom, caring, Tom did never give a second thought before having an affair with Anna. All he was interested was shifting his mood and make his life more happening. Moreover, when he complains Anna of behaving like Rachel, he began to make out with Megan despite the fact that Tom and Anna had a child by then. And later when he was made aware of the fact that Megan was pregnant, he was afraid and tried to get out of danger.

Megan who was married to Scott, even betrays him by setting affairs with Dr. Kamal Abdic and Tom, As per her, she grew dull and there was not much happening which bored her in the house.

Another example of betrayal was of Mac, Megan’s boyfriend, who left her alone after they gave birth to a girl child (the child was considered unwanted by both of them). These act of his made Megan fell insecure and challenged her trust in the relationship.

Then comes being abandoned. In The Girl On The Train, Rachel and Megan experience the plight of being away from the loved ones. Rachel who was left on her own by her ex-husband Tom experienced the plight of devoid and couldn’t afford to let her memories go. Moreover, Megan was left all alone after the death of their daughter by Mac. Later this very fear of being abandonment became a point of clash and disturbance in her relation with Tom and Kamal. She remains calm and responsive when she has power over them and is disturbed when she senses their motive for leaving her.


Paula Hawkins born in Rhodesia, Zimbabwe on 26 August 1972 was a journalist in her initial career. Belonging to a family of well-educated parents, she had she had inculcated knowledge on journalism from her father too who was into the same profession of being a financial journalist. Although she had her primary education in the school there at Harare, Zimbabwe. But at the age of 17, she moved to London for her further studies under University of Oxford.

Thereafter she started working as a journalist, commenting on the aspects of the business at The Times and later worked as a freelancer. In order to uplift the conditions of the women and lay more emphasis on women empowerment, she wrote The Girl On The Train which gave pieces of advice to women regarding financial aspects and theories of finances, such that women will understand and work more for their individuality rather than remain aloof and be dependent on others for their needs.

Apart from being a journalist, she had interest in writing fictional novels. Her interest led her to write under a pseudo name Amy Silver. Under this pen name, she wrote four novels around 2009. Despite her hard work, her writings couldn’t achieve much popularity among the readers and thus couldn’t provide her with any commercial breakthrough. Thereafter she thought to try and put the focus on topics which would excite the reader’s reading senses. Of her failures in the last four novels, she changed her style and tried to emphasize on more serious and deeper stories.  Her top of the line novel The Girl On The Train (2015), was a mind-boggling spine-chiller, with topics of aggressive behavior at home, liquor, medication abuse etc. During the course of writing The Girl On The Train, she had undergone many difficulties which included her poor financial status and thus had to borrow money from her father in order to complete the novel. She has dedicated six months, full-time writing to complete her work.


Paula Hawkins through her novel has come up with an innovative inclination on the currently popular and one of the most attractive and decorated amnesia thriller. In her novel The Girl On The Train, the protagonist in under the intoxication of alcohol and thus she doesn’t remember the events she has done or that have taken place in her presence. But later on, experiencing the same thing she considers herself to be under the influence of encountering déjà vu.


The role of Women in The Girl On The Train is one of the centralised themes and is of great importance. The whole of the novel has been narrated by three women, Rachel, Megan and Anna. The whole story revolves around their narration. Greater emphasis was laid on the issue of being good looking and the ability to have children.

Rachel, being the most unstable character of the novel was not blessed enough to have children. She was more into alcoholism which caused her to lose her husband in the first place and eventually the job she had challenging her livelihood thereafter. She has grown dull day by day because of her keen interest in alcohol.

Megan is somewhat unstable and is insecure. She had a child, although unwanted but the new life meet her end because of Megan’s insecurity as a mother, that she was unable to take care of her. But she has her beauty intact and even has a husband.

Anna is the only character who is the most procured in herself. She has her beauty, is married and has a child. But remains quiet tensed by the activities of Rachel.

The capacity of recalling events is another important aspect of The Girl On The Train. It even serves and is cited to be a major event of conflict. Evoking the events has been a struggle for Rachel as she couldn’t remember what happened to Megan that night, and what she did that night. She completely blackouts and thus couldn’t recognize who might have killed Megan and she even couldn’t realize the lies Tom told her right from the very beginning of their marriage.

The consumption of alcohol makes Rachel unable to hinder decision-making and memory. She was unable to save her marriage and got fired from her job.

The very first issue that is being raised is women empowerment. Rachel was earlier employed and was working under a company. She was earning and was able to support herself without any financial crisis, but as soon as she was fired from the job. Her earnings came to an end. Her conditions deteriorated to that extent that she couldn’t afford herself a house to live in and were thus living with a friend of hers. Later she had to borrow money from her mother. Here the author wants to bring the fact to light that, if a woman is employed, she need not be under the control of anyone, and could live her life on her own.

Moreover engaging themselves in work, makes their mind diverted. Like Anna was feeling bored, the whole day in the house gives the evidence to this.

In The Girl On The Train, through the character of Tom, showed how a lie can develop clash in a relationship. Tom lied to Rachel, about his parents, his friends and he even had an affair with Anna. This made the protagonist, Rachel anxious to know what he was hiding and thus got themselves into a fight. The same happened with Megan, she too lied about her outings with Kamal, thus deteriorate her relationship with Scott. In contrast to all these Rachel is found to be quite sensitive. She hides the fact that she has been fired from her office, which would have directly or indirectly effected Cathy.

Amongst all these, one of the most important issues that the author talks about frequently is that of being easily attracted to someone. The influence of lust is expressed through the character of Tom and Megan. Tom has a strong sexual desire towards Anna even though he had a wife. Later he got engaged in a sexual affair with Megan. Of being found a proper mate, he left Rachel, as she was unable to have children. As mentioned he was bored with the usual person, the usual ups, and downs. Later when he came to know about Megan pregnancy he told her to get rid of it, and when she didn’t agree with him he decided to get rid of both of them.

Megan, on the other hand, had an unwanted child with Mac, but later were not able to take proper care which led to the death of the baby.

Another important issue is that of consumption of alcohol. Rachel had to lose her husband and even her job because of her extreme drinking habit.

Motif: It is defined as a particular pattern or design which is used many times in writing and music.

In The Girl On The Train, the author used the train with different intentions. For a being, sitting on a train only provides an opportunity to see people, but it lacks interaction. Moreover travelling on a train provides the person mystery throughout the scenic beauty and locations through which the train passes by. Rachel had both kinds of experiences during her journey by train.


Paula Hawkins in her novel The Girl On The Train uses a lot of similes and metaphor. A few of those are:

“the holes in your life are permanent. You have to grow around them, like tree roots around concrete; you mould yourself through the gaps.”

– (Hawkins, 2015: Page no 99)

Here Hawkins talks about the condition of Megan, how she felt about losing her child.

“I was still young, there was still plenty of time, but failure cloaked me like a mantle, it overwhelmed me, dragged me under and I gave up hope.”

– (Hawkins, 2015: Page no 84)

Here the author talks about the incapability of Rachel having a baby, despite trying all her efforts.

Moreover, the uses of imagery have played an important role in The Girl On The Train.

Ahead of schedule in The Girl on the Train, before Rachel or the protagonist has met Scott and Megan, Rachel strikingly envisions the lives of the general population she sees from the prepare. She has named these individuals Jess and Jason and paints expand pictures of their lives – Jason functioning as a specialist abroad, Jess as a model planner or a painter, campaigns drying upstairs in the house. The detail with which Hawkins composes these entries exhibits the amount Rachel withdraws from reality into this dream of immaculate lives.

All through The Girl on the Train, Rachel portrays the fantasies she has had at a young hour toward the beginning of the daydreams she regularly wakes from in a frenzy because of their striking quality and genuine stakes. These fantasies, in which Rachel chokes, tries to help Jess and Jason while being caught on the prepare and encounters everybody in her life betraying her, parallel Rachel’s existence with the expansion of exceptional and allegorical symbolism that leave the protagonist pondering what facts can be taken away.

In contrast with the battle scene amongst Megan and Tom, which traverses an insignificant page, best case scenario, the physical battle amongst Tom and Rachel extends over different parts and perspectives. This nitty-gritty and clear portrayal of enthusiastic and physical battle work to a peak and purification for the person who has seen Rachel ponder her affections for Tom after their separation.

Hawkins utilizes moves in portrayal and depiction to educate Rachel’s psychological state when calm, alcoholic, and in the middle. This symbolism is vital to understanding the story, as it enables readers to choose the amount they can put stock in Rachel’s impression of a circumstance. By and large, occasions and symbolism appear to escalate and obscure together as Rachel turns out to be more intoxicated.

Rachel makes an allusion comparing the dynamics of Ted Hughes and how he moved  Assia Weville in the house which he previously shared with Plath, with the dynamics of Tom, how he moved Anna into the same house in which he lived with her previously.

Hawkins even used personification, basically with Rachel, of her drinking vices, her loss of memory, and the lack of control over oneself.

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