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Fixed on Fiction

The Girl on the Train

For our April meeting, Fixed on Fiction met to discuss the very popular The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins-

A debut psychological thriller that will forever change the way you look at other people’s lives.

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.

And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?

Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut. –Summary courtesy of Goodreads.

Our thumbs-up/down/so-so votes were unanimous this month, The Girl on the Train was so-so all around in our group. Here are some of the initial thoughts readers shared while explaining their votes:

  • I enjoyed it but ended up unsatisfied. It was like eating a piece of candy- it’s good but I’m still hungry
  • I read it all in one day. There was so much negativity that I wanted to get it over with. I liked the layers to the unreliable narrator, I was blindsided by the extent of Tom’s gas-lighting, and I thought the story about Megan and her baby was the most deftly written part of the book. I was put off by the ending. It was a bit hackneyed, a bit like a B movie.
  • It was fine, but I’m not fond of this genre. A little disappointed in the end- it came too neatly.
  • I hate when the killer tells you exactly why they did everything. The end was too obvious and there were so few likeable characters.
  • I found it interesting because I’ve known a Rachel. But how could all three of those women been drawn towards Tom? Are we all attracted to liars?
  • As I was reading I kept thinking- “This writer has read Gone Girl.
  • I didn’t want to know anything about the characters. I didn’t even care about who killed Megan. The flipping through time confused me a bit.
  • This started strong but fizzled out in a disappointing fashion. Anti-climactic ending.
  • This was very monologue-y. Not enough dialogue. I wasn’t shocked by most of the “twists” and I’m tired of the “dark side of women” theme. But she’s a good writer and the book was gripping, although the pregnancy was predictable.

On Rachel-

  • Very self-destructive. But her alcoholism fueled the story.
  • I was sympathetic for her regarding how she couldn’t get over the baby issue
  • I didn’t like how she complained about Cathy. Cathy was too removed from the story- she needed more development.
  • I kept wanting to tell her to pull herself together, but we have to remember that alcoholics can’t pull themselves together.

On the book’s popularity-

  • It’s an easy read. A beach read.
  • The pace was very fast…there was always something happening which kept me reading.
  • I think it got billed as the ultimate Gone Girl read-alike
  • I saw lots of positive reviews. Plus once something gets popular it can gain a lot of momentum quickly.

On deep secrets/half-truths in marriages-

  • I think these were extreme examples, not the usual
  • There are plenty of marriages with secrets but not on this scale.
  • You never know the interior of someone else’s life, so who knows what goes on in someone else’s marriage?
  • I think if you don’t tell your spouse something right away it gets harder and harder. So it is believable to read that secrets would be kept for so long.
  • There’s also a difference between good people with something hidden and pathological/malevolent people.

This is just a small sampling of the comments made at our discussion. If you would like to share additional thoughts on The Girl on the Train, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.





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