Based in modern England, Paula Hawkins’ The Girl on the Train is a thriller narrated by three women but centered around one. Rachel. A raging alcoholic and daily commuter on a train. Everyday, the train stops at a signal facing a couple’s home. Rachel gives this couple an imaginary ‘perfect’ life. Right next to the couple’s house, however, is her old house. Which her ex-husband now conveniently shares with his new wife.
One day, Rachel witnesses something. What she sees not only erodes her notion of a ‘perfect couple’, but also entangles her in a murder mystery. Except that pesky little drinking problem of hers makes her unreliable.
The girl on the train captures many themes, but one major one in particular stands out. ‘Gas-lighting’.
Gaslight: manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.
From the onset, you as a reader will try to incriminate each character. Then just as swiftly, will find yourself dismissing their motive. Especially because the eventual criminal gaslights all other characters throughout.
But even when you have enough evidence to point blame, it quickly slips through your fingers as Paula Hawkins so masterfully gaslights you.
Deceit, abuse, and crime in one page-turning love affair.
Careful when reading this book, you may not look at those close to you the same. At least not until you recover from the aftermath of the revelation.
The Girl on the Train is a heartbreaking love story at worst and carefully executed thriller at best.
Pro-tip: Do not watch the movie. Not before, not after, not ever.