The Girl On The Train is a dark, haunting and depressing psychological thriller, but it’s incredibly effective thanks to the writing skills of author Paula Hawkins. Rachel is a woman who considers herself worthless. She feels that women are only valued for two things: their looks and their role as a mother. She is barren and plain-looking. Undisclosed to her landlady she has lost her job but continues to ride the commuter train twice a day. Unfortunately she must pass the home of her ex-husband Tom and his new wife Anna. They’ve recently had a child which is something Rachel was unable to produce when she was married to him. He’s moved his new family into the home that he and Rachel once shared. Tom posted a picture of himself and his newborn on Facebook with the caption that he’s never been happier.
Rachel, in her moment of despair, has taken to drinking to a point where she has blackouts and forgets that she drunk calls her husband many times a night, even shows up at his home. Because of a signal malfunction she often finds her rail car stopped on the tracks next to her former home. She starts to notice another couple who live a few doors down. She refers to them as the golden couple and manufactures a narrative about their lives as she observes them each day. They gradually become important to her. When Megan disappears Rachel finds herself an important character in the police investigation. She was seen stalking the neighborhood the night of the disappearance. She has wounds on her body that cannot be explained.
Megan and Anna look enough alike that the police feel there may be mistaken identity involved. The book is told in three voices: Rachel, Megan and Anna. The fact that Rachel has a history of drunken blackouts and has a hard time separating fact from fiction makes her overtly suspect, even to herself. Megan has plenty of secrets of her own and Anna – is she the perfect second wife she appears to be?