About the Book

Book Protagonist: Rachel Watson
Publication Date: 2015
Genre: Non-Fiction, Romance, Suspense and Thriller


The Girl on the Train

By Paula Hawkins

'The Girl on the Train' is an intriguing psychological thriller novel that employs suspense, twists, and turns that keep the reader engrossed until the end.

This well-written novel own strong themes that knit the story into a tale of obsession and mystery. The characters are confusing and defective, making them relatable. The flexuous storyline of The Girl on the Train‘ deters predictability.

The only implicit strike is how frustrating the top character’s addiction to alcohol is. Still, this aspect is pivotal to the plot and adds to the intrigue and suspense.

Switch in Perspectives

The story of ‘The Girl on the Train’ offers different points of view in every part of the story. This style creates anticipatory narratives that captivate the reader. By shifting between the perspectives of Rachel, Megan, and Anna, the author builds a complex story of unreliability and twists linked through trains.

Hawkins uses this technique to control the reader’s knowledge of each event. Known from Rachel’s narrative that Megan was murdered, the reader becomes more anxious when Megan narrates secret activities, such as going out alone at night.

A switch in perspectives also explains the experiences, inspirations, and secrets of the literary figures. The narrators’ stories are connected and eventually unite as the plot climaxes. Critics describe the characters as simplistic and shallow, however. Hawkins insufficiently explores their motivations and experiences.

Melancholic Lives and Complexity of Characters

This novel explores the dilemmas and complexities of the characters. Paula Hawkins skillfully examines issues like excessive interest, addiction, and melancholy.

Rachel, Megan, and Anna’s lives intersect in unpredictable ways. In the book, Rachel is an alcohol abuser with obsessive traits. Divorced and jobless, she finds comfort in riding the train to and fro London daily. She spends time on the train visualizing other people’s lives, especially a couple she sees from the train window. Her sadness and sense of failure haunt her, leading to depression.

Megan is the woman Rachel fantasizes about. Although beautiful and married to a man who loves her, she feels unfulfilled. Her past trauma is unhealed, and she has a history of self-abuse. She is impulsive and miserable. Her quest for excitement leads to a relationship with Tom. This eventually leads to her death.

Anna Watson is Tom’s new wife who pretends to be happily married but deals with apprehension and despair. Though discontented with her duty as just a mother, she throws herself into the work. She feels insecure about Rachel and fears she will lose her home.

Also, ‘The Girl on the Train’ assesses the characters’ complications through their conceptions, emotions, beliefs, and actions. Taking it upon herself to solve the mystery of a missing woman, Rachel becomes tangled in a web of manipulations and lies.

The novel discusses the challenges of human association, particularly between women and men. Characters in the book are multi-layered with scandalous secrets. Although Rachel is not involved in crime, she cannot stop her life from falling apart. Aware of the damaging effects of drunkenness, she still indulges in the habit. Megan has a scarring past that involves child murder.

Initially described as a patient, devoted and caring man, Tom is exposed to be manipulative, deceitful, and murderous. He craftily manages his different identities in the house and outside of it. In ‘The Girl on the Train,’ Hawkins uses the complexity of human behaviors and interactions to drive the story to a gratifying end.

Harmful Effects of Obsession

In ‘The Girl on the Train,’ Hawkins illustrates the dangerous force of obsession and its destructive consequences.

Rachel Watson is the character that struggles the most with obsession. First, her ex-husband and his new family are a victim. She stalks them on and offline. While doing this, she lives in isolation from others.

When Megan and Scott catch her fancy, she stops relating with family and friends and becomes disturbingly focused on their relationship life. Her obsession leads to impulsive and self-destructive choices that affect her and others. She often misremembers events and is considered a suspect during the murder investigation of Megan.

Creatively, Hawkins ventures into Rachel’s struggle with self-doubt. She blames herself for infertility and the failure of her marriage, amplifying her psychiatric disorder. While Rachel unhealthily seeks to solve the case about Megan’s disappearance, she becomes paranoid about everyone. She suspects Megan’s therapist, her husband, and even herself. Her confusing account of Megan’s murder leads the police to the wrong suspect at the beginning.

In ‘The Girl on the Train,’ Hawkins talks about the importance of mental health awareness and care.

A Revealing End

Initially, Tom Watson is a loving and dedicated husband tolerant of his possessive and once-abusive ex-wife.

When Megan disappears, he is the least of the suspects. The reader’s choice of suspect gets manipulated through confusing narratives. In the end, however, Rachel solves the mystery.

Tom is cheating on Anna with Megan and tries to abandon her when he has had enough. Unfortunately, Megan becomes pregnant. When Tom refuses to be involved, she threatens to tell his wife about the affair, and he kills her.


Is Rachel Watson’s character a relatable one?

Yes, she is a relatable character. Flawed and addicted to alcohol, she struggles with the aftermath of a failed marriage. Her pain and depression are elements that people have experienced at different times. Added to this, ‘The Girl on the Train’ encouraged the conversation about obsession and mental illness among readers.

What is one criticism ‘The Girl on the Train’ received?

Although ‘The Girl on the Train’ became an international bestseller published in over forty countries after its release, critics have found the plot to be emulative and clichéd. Some have even argued that the end was too orderly to be called a psychological thriller.

What makes ‘The Girl on the Train’ a fascinating psychological thriller?

‘The Girl on the Train’ features an unpredictable plot. An obsessive and alcoholic Rachel Watson provides an account characterized by severe memory inaccuracies. Minor characters also possess secrets and opinions that make them appear significant to the novel’s plot. Paula Hawkins’ use of different viewpoints also adds to the novel’s complexity.

Is ‘The Girl on the Train’ a book to read?

Yes, it is. Although some critics have named the unreliable narrator and uncompassionate character a failure of ‘The Girl on the Train,’ many readers have commended it for its appealing prose style and excellent use of various standpoints to create excitement.

The Girl on the Train: Paula Hawkins' Psychological Thriller
  • Story
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Writing Style
  • Dialogue
  • Conclusion
Fave Ehimwenma
About Fave Ehimwenma
Fave Ehimwenma is a proficient writer, researcher, and content creator whose love for art and books drives her passion for literature reviews.
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