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The Girl on the Train (novel)

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The Girl on the Train
First edition
AuthorPaula Hawkins
Audio read by
Published13 Jan 2015 (Riverhead, US)
15 Jan 2015 (Doubleday, UK)
Publication placeUnited Kingdom
Media typePrint (hardback)
Pages317 (SK)
395 (US)
320 (UK)

The Girl on the Train is a 2015 psychological thriller novel by British author Paula Hawkins that gives narratives from three different women about relationship troubles (caused by coercive/controlling men) and, for the main protagonist, alcoholism.[1] The novel debuted in the number one spot on The New York Times Fiction Best Sellers of 2015 list (print and e-book) dated 1 February 2015,[2] and remained in the top position for 13 consecutive weeks, until April 2015.[3] In January 2016 it became the #1 best-seller again for two weeks. Many reviews referred to the book as "the next Gone Girl", referring to a popular 2012 psychological mystery, by author Gillian Flynn, with similar themes that used unreliable narrators.[4][5]

By early March, less than two months after its release, the novel had sold over one million copies,[6] and an additional half million by April.[7] It occupied the #1 spot of the UK hardback book chart for 20 weeks, the longest any book has ever held the top spot.[8] By early August, the book had sold more than three million copies in the U.S. alone, and, by October 2016, an estimated 20 million copies worldwide;[9] by 2021, the book had sold an estimated 23 million copies worldwide.[10] The audiobook edition, released by Books on Tape, was narrated by Clare Corbett, Louise Brealey and India Fisher. It won the 2016 Audie Award for "Audiobook of the Year".[11][12]

The film rights were acquired before the book was published, in 2014, by DreamWorks Pictures for Marc Platt Productions.[13] The American film adaptation, starring Emily Blunt and directed by Tate Taylor, had its world premiere on 20 September 2016 in London[14] before it had its theatrical release in the United States on 7 October.[15]


Rachel Watson is a 33-year-old listless alcoholic, reeling from the end of her marriage to Tom, who left her for another woman. Rachel's drinking has caused her to lose her job; she frequently binges and has blackouts. While drunk, she often harasses Tom, though she has little or no memory of these acts once she sobers up. Tom is now married to Anna Boyd and has a daughter with her, Evie – a situation that fuels Rachel's self-destructive tendencies, as it was her inability to conceive a child that began her spiral into alcoholism. Rachel follows her old routine of taking the train to and from London every day, one at 8:04 in the morning and the other at 5:56 in the evening. This routine is one of her few excuses to leave her apartment, and prevents her roommate, Cathy, who is concerned with her drinking, from discovering that she is unemployed. Her train passes her old house on Blenheim Road, where Tom, Anna, and Evie now live. She also begins watching from the train a couple who live a few houses away from Tom. She idealises their life (christening them "Jason" and "Jess"), though she has no idea that their life is far from perfect. "Jess", whose real name is Megan Hipwell, has a troubled past. She finds her life boring, and escapes from her troubles by taking various lovers. Megan has sought help by seeing therapist Dr. Kamal Abdic.

Anna is in love with Tom, and happy as a stay-at-home mother to the young Evie. However, she eventually becomes furious at Rachel's harassment of her family. One day, Rachel is stunned to see Megan kissing another man. The next day, after heavy drinking, Rachel awakens to find herself bloody and injured, with no memories of the night before. She learns that Megan is missing, and is questioned by the police after Anna reports having seen her drunkenly staggering around the night of Megan's disappearance. Rachel becomes interested in the case and tells the police she thinks Megan was having an affair. She then contacts Megan's husband, Scott ("Jason") and tells him as well, lying that she and Megan were friends. Rachel learns that the man she saw kissing Megan was Kamal.

Rachel contacts Kamal, lying about her identity to get close to him and learn more about him. She makes a therapy appointment with him to see if he can help her recall the events that happened during her blackout that night. While Kamal suspects nothing, Rachel begins to gain insight into her life by speaking with him, inadvertently benefiting from the therapy. Her connections to Scott and Kamal, though built on lies, make her feel more important. She manages to not drink for days at a time, but always relapses. Meanwhile, she continues to call, visit, and harass Tom. Megan's body is found; she is revealed to have been pregnant, and her unborn child was fathered by neither Scott nor Kamal. As Scott discovers Rachel's lies and lashes out at her, her memories become clearer. Rachel remembers seeing Megan get into Tom's car. Anna discovers that Tom and Megan were having an affair.

Rachel begins trusting her own memories more, and realises that many of the crazy things Tom said she did while drunk never really happened. He had been gaslighting her for years, which made her question her sanity. Armed with this realisation, and the knowledge that he must have been the one who killed Megan, Rachel warns Anna. When Anna confronts him, Tom confesses to murdering Megan after she threatened to reveal that he had made her pregnant. Anna is cowed, fearing for her daughter's safety. Tom tries to beat and intimidate Rachel into keeping silent, but she defies him and fights back. Knowing he is about to kill her, Rachel stabs Tom with a corkscrew; Anna helps Rachel make sure that he dies from the wound. When the police arrive, former adversaries Rachel and Anna support each other by co-ordinating their stories to explain their actions as self-defense. After this, Rachel decides to quit drinking and move on with her life.


The review aggregator website Book Marks reported that 29% of critics gave the book a "rave" review, whilst 43% and 14% of the critics expressed "positive" or "mixed" impressions, respectively. Another 14% of the critics "panned" the book, based on a sample of seven reviews.[16]

The Girl on the Train received mostly positive reviews from critics and audiences alike. In 2015 it became the fastest-selling adult hardcover novel in history, and it spent over four months on the New York Times Bestseller List following its release.[7] Kirkus Reviews praised the novel with a starred review, writing that "even the most astute readers will be in for a shock as Hawkins slowly unspools the facts, exposing the harsh realities of love and obsession's inescapable links to violence." Subsequently, the novel was honoured by Kirkus Reviews as one of the best books of 2015, in the fiction category. The book also won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award in the category Mystery & Thriller.[17]

In a less positive review for The New York Times, Jean Hanff Korelitz questioned the novel's narrative structure and criticised the protagonist for behaving "illogically, self-destructively, and narcissistically."[18]

The Girl on the Train has been compared frequently to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn, as both novels employ unreliable narrators and deal with suburban life.[1] Paula Hawkins has waved these comparisons off, however, saying in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter: "Amy Dunne is a psychopath, an incredibly controlling and manipulative, smart, cunning woman. [Rachel is] just a mess who can't do anything right."[19]


The foreign rights have been sold in 34 countries, and the book has been translated into many languages, including:

Language Publisher Book name Translator
Slovak Slovart Dievča vo vlaku Patrick Frank
Arabic[20] منشورات الرمل Manshurat Al-Raml فتاة القطار
Fatāh al-Qiṭār
Al Harith Al Nabhan (الحارث النبهان)
Bulgarian[21] Enthusiast Момичето от влака Margarita Terzieva (Маргарита Терзиева)
French[22] Sonatine Éditions La Fille du train Corinne Daniellot
Danish[23] Gyldendal Kvinden i toget Steffen Rayburn-Maarup
Czech Euromedia Group Dívka ve vlaku Věra Klásková
Catalan[24] La Campana La noia del tren Imma Falcó
Persian Milkan دخترى در قطار
Doxtar-i dar Qatâr
Mahboobeh Mousavi
German[citation needed] Random House Girl on the Train Christoph Göhler
Bahasa Indonesia[citation needed] Noura Books Publishing The Girl on The Train Inggrid Nimpoeno
Italian[25] Piemme La ragazza del treno B. Porteri
Polish[citation needed] Świat Książki Dziewczyna z pociągu Jan Kraśko
Portuguese[citation needed] Topseller A Rapariga no Comboio José João Letria (revised by Diogo Montenegro)
Spanish[citation needed] Editorial Planeta La Chica del Tren Aleix Montoto
Thai[26] โพสต์บุ๊กส์ ปมหลอน รางมรณะ นรา สุภัคโรจน์
Turkish[citation needed] İthaki Publishing-house Trendeki Kız Aslıhan Kuzucan
Traditional Chinese[27] Eurasian Publishing Group and Sole Press 列車上的女孩 Lièchē shàng de nǚhái Wang Xinxin
Romanian[citation needed] Editura Trei Fata din tren Ionela Chirila
Bengali[citation needed] Batighar Prokashoni The Girl on The Train Kishor Pasha Imon
Hebrew[citation needed] Keter-Books הבחורה על הרכבת HaBahura al HaRakevet Hadasa Handler
Slovene[28] Mladinska knjiga Založba Dekle na vlaku Alenka Ropret
Vietnamese[29] Nhã Nam Cô gái trên tàu Huyền Vũ
Georgian პალიტრა L გოგონა მატარებელში მანანა კვესელავა
Japanese[30] 講談社文庫 Kodansha ガール・オン・ザ・トレイン (gāru on za torein) 池田 真紀子 (Makiko Ikeda)
Greek Ψυχογιός Το κορίτσι του τρένου Αναστάσιος Αργυρίου
Hungarian[31] XXI. Század Kiadó A lány a vonaton Tomori Gábor
Dutch A.W. Bruna Uitgevers Het meisje in de trein Miebeth van Horn
Hindi Times of India Ladki Train Main Sahil Kumar -
Malayalam[32] Manjul Publishers Theevandiyile Penkutti Haritha C K

In addition, there are two translations in Iran, a country which under sanctions does not recognise other countries' copyright agreements: one by Nilufar Amnzadeh and another by Mahbubeh Musavi.[33]

Film adaptations[edit]

American adaptation[edit]

The film rights for the novel were acquired in March 2014 by DreamWorks Pictures and Marc Platt Productions, with Jared Leboff (a producer at Marc Platt) set to produce.[34] Tate Taylor, who directed The Help (2011), was announced as the director of this film in May 2015, with Erin Cressida Wilson as scriptwriter.[35] In June 2015, British actress Emily Blunt was in talks to portray Rachel.[36] Author Hawkins said in July 2015 that the film's setting would be moved from the UK to the US.[37] The film began production in the New York City area in October 2015.[38] The film was released on 7 October 2016.[39] It remains mostly faithful to events in the book; the only distinct difference is that Rachel realises the truth about Tom's accusations of her behaviour except that she does it through a chance meeting with the wife of Tom's former manager (instead of her own efforts); the wife reveals that Tom was actually fired from his job because of his numerous affairs at the office, rather than Rachel's having a violent breakdown at a party. (In reality, Rachel simply drank too much and passed out in a guest room until Tom made her leave.)

Indian adaptation[edit]

On 24 April 2019 it was announced an Indian adaptation of the book was in the works, starring Parineeti Chopra.[40] The film was directed by Ribhu Dasgupta and produced under the banner of Reliance Entertainment. Principal photography began in early August 2019 in London.[41] Unlike the 2016 American adaptation, the Indian adaptation retained the book's original UK setting, but changed the majority of the character to Non-Resident Indians. The film's original release date of 8 May 2020 was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[42] The film was eventually released on 26 February 2021 on Netflix.[43]

Stage adaptation[edit]

A stage adaptation of the novel by Rachel Wagstaff and Duncan Abel made its world premiere in The Courtyard Theatre at the West Yorkshire Playhouse from 12 May to 9 June 2018. It stars Jill Halfpenny as Rachel Watson and is directed by Joe Murphy.[44]

In 2022 it is presented by the Court Theater in Christchurch, New Zealand.[45]

In 2024, the play had its Canadian premiere at Vertigo Theatre in Calgary, Alberta.[46]


  1. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (4 January 2015). "Another Girl Gone in a Tale of Betrayal – 'The Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins". The New York Times. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  2. ^ "Best Sellers: Combined Print & E-Book Fiction". The New York Times. 1 February 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  3. ^ "Best Sellers : Hardcover Fiction". The New York Times. 26 April 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2016.
  4. ^ "Review excerpts". paulahawkinsbooks.com. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  5. ^ Lawless, Jill (22 March 2015). "'The Girl on the Train' is a runaway hit for Paula Hawkins". Redding Record Searchlight. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 25 March 2015.
  6. ^ McClurg, Jocelyn (11 March 2015). "'Girl on the Train' sells 1 million copies". USA Today.
  7. ^ a b O'Connor, William (20 April 2015). "The Fastest-Selling Adult Novel in History: Paula Hawkins' 'The Girl On The Train'". The Daily Beast.
  8. ^ Flood, Alison (8 July 2015). "The Girl on the Train breaks all-time book sales record". The Guardian.
  9. ^ Feldman, Lucy (10 October 2016). "What Paula Hawkins Thinks of 'The Girl on the Train' Movie". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on 27 July 2022. 'Of course I was nervous,' says Paula Hawkins, author of 'The Girl on the Train', which has sold more than 20 million copies around the world.'
  10. ^ Mesure, Susie (3 September 2021). "Paula Hawkins "I should have called it The Woman on the Train, not The Girl on the Train". i. Archived from the original on 27 July 2022. 'The Girl on the Train, which has sold 23 million copies worldwide in 46 languages since its publication in 2015...'
  11. ^ "Meet the Cast: The girls from Paula Hawkins' "The Girl On The Train" (Exclusive Audio Clips)". Books on Tape. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  12. ^ "The Year's Best Audiobooks: 2016 Audie Award Winners". The Booklist Reader. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 1 January 2017.
  13. ^ Kroll, Justin (24 March 2014). "DreamWorks Acquires Novel 'The Girl on the Train' for Marc Platt". Variety. Retrieved 29 June 2016.
  14. ^ Cusumano, Katherine (21 September 2016). "Emily Blunt Keeps It Cheerful for 'The Girl on the Train' Premiere". W Magazine. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  15. ^ Bradshaw, Peter (3 October 2016). "The Girl on the Train review: red herrings on the tracks signal problems". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 June 2022.
  16. ^ "The Girl on the Train". Book Marks. Retrieved 25 February 2019.
  17. ^ "The 2015 Goodreads Choice Awards". Goodreads.com.
  18. ^ Korelitz, Jean Hanff (30 January 2015). "'The Girl on the Train' by Paula Hawkins". The New York Times.
  19. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (28 September 2016). "'Girl on the Train' Author Shoots Down 'Gone Girl' Comparisons". The Hollywood Reporter.
  20. ^ "Humood's review of فتاة القطار". www.goodreads.com (in Arabic). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  21. ^ "Момичето от влака, Паула Хоукинс". enthusiast.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  22. ^ "La Fille du train". Sonatine Editions (in French). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  23. ^ "Kvinden i toget". Gyldendal (in Danish). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  24. ^ "La noia del tren". La Campana (in Catalan). Retrieved 17 May 2021.
  25. ^ "La ragazza del treno". Edizioni Piemme (in Italian). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  26. ^ "เล่าหลังอ่าน: ปมหลอน รางมรณะ" [Tales after reading: The Girl on The Train]. workpointtoday.com (in Thai). 22 September 2018. Retrieved 18 March 2022.
  27. ^ "列車上的女孩". Booklife.com.tw (in Chinese). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  28. ^ "Dekle na vlaku". Mladinska knjiga (in Slovenian). Retrieved 18 September 2016.
  29. ^ "Cô gái trên tàu". Nhã Nam.vn (in Vietnamese). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  30. ^ "ガール・オン・ザ・トレイン". Kodansha (in Japanese). Retrieved 16 April 2018.
  31. ^ "Tomori Gábor". Goodreads.com (in Hungarian). Retrieved 16 March 2018.
  32. ^ Amazon India. ASIN 9355430604.
  33. ^ "Five Persian translators working separately on Paula Hawkins' "Into the Water"". Tehran Times. 17 June 2017. Retrieved 25 December 2018.
  34. ^ "Movies: 'The Girl on the Train' Movie Adaptation". The New York Times. 2 October 2016.
  35. ^ McNary, Dave (21 May 2015). "'The Help' Director Tate Taylor Boards 'Girl on the Train'". Variety. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  36. ^ Kroll, Justin (4 June 2015). "Emily Blunt in Talks to Star in 'The Girl on the Train' Adaptation". Variety. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  37. ^ Pulver, Andrew (13 July 2015). "'The Girl on the Train' film to be set in US not UK". The Guardian.
  38. ^ "Casting Featured Male Role in DreamWorks Pictures 'The Girl on the Train' Starring Emily Blunt & Chris Evans". AuditionsFree.com. 22 October 2015. Retrieved 6 December 2015.
  39. ^ McNary, Dave (6 December 2015). "Universal Boards Emily Blunt's 'Girl on the Train'". Variety. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  40. ^ "Parineeti Chopra to star in official Hindi remake of 'The Girl On The Train'". The Week. 24 April 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  41. ^ "Parineeti Chopra's Hindi remake of The Girl on The Train goes on floors; makers aim for 2020 release". Firstpost. 4 August 2019. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  42. ^ "Movies that were supposed to release in May, but won't hit the screens due to lockdown - EasternEye". Eastern Eye. 4 May 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2020.
  43. ^ "Parineeti Chopra's The Girl on The Train to release on Netflix on Feb 26". India Today. 13 January 2021. Retrieved 13 June 2021.
  44. ^ "Jill Halfpenny to star in world premiere of The Girl on the Train at West Yorkshire Playhouse". West Yorkshire Playhouse. Retrieved 8 April 2018.
  45. ^ "The Girl On The Train". The Court Theatre. Retrieved 24 May 2022.
  46. ^ "The Girl On The Train". Vertigo Theatre. Retrieved 22 March 2024.