Unreliable Narrators and Female Authors : Paula Hawkins’s ‘The Girl on the Train’

trainIs there a new Amy Dunne in town? A new Gillian Flynn? If you loved Gone Girl and have been waiting for something to grab you with the same unreliable narrators and twists and turns, run to the nearest book store and grab this.

Seriously. I started recommending this book before I was even finished. I started recommending it hardly half way into the audio book, because it was so good from page one.

A tiding of magpies: One for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy, five for silver, six for gold, seven for a secret never to be told.

The comparisons to Gone Girl are obvious, but where Gone Girl was alternately narrated by Amy and Nick, The Girl on the Train is narrated by three women: Rachel, the spurned wife turned alcoholic; Anna, the woman who replaced her; and Megan, the flighty girl who disappears.

Can any of them be trusted? Rachel is a black-out drunk, and doesn’t trust her own memories. Anna lied and cheated with another woman’s husband. Megan has a history of running away. Meanwhile, the men in the story seem to exist on the periphery. They’re there, but we aren’t given a first person look into their thoughts.

What makes these women so captivating? I am always drawn to these fast paced, psychological thrillers, and my favorites are almost always written by women. I think it’s partly because we all have all of these women in us. We are all Rachel, Anna, and Megan, at certain points in time. We want to be loved, we want to be wanted, and we want to be free. Hawkins writes an incredible book by breaking all of these desires down into three complicated, complex women.

I couldn’t pick a favorite among them, but I can say Louise Brealey’s narration of Megan was phenomenal. She completely

Exhibit A
Exhibit A

brought her to life in my head. I have to admit though, I accidentally gave up on the audio. I happened into a Barnes & Noble with Brad and ended up sitting on the floor with The Girl on the Train for so long he finally just suggested getting coffee and sitting in an actual chair until I finished. So we did.

My heart was actually racing as I rushed to finish the last chapters, which never really happens. Now I’m done and all I can do is recommend it time and time again, until I find something else that’s just as breathlessly exciting as The Girl on the Train.

Who are your favorite unreliable narrators? Help me out of my reading slump since finishing this one!

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  1. this was such a page turner and a complete surprise. It’s unavoidable that it will be compared to Gone Girl but that is a good sign because both of them make you feel like you have been slapped in the face! LOL

    1. I loved that! It is similar, especially with the memory loss. A friend just recommended Unravel by Calia Read, which also sounds similar and therefore right up my alley, and possibly yours if you haven’t read it!

  2. Oooh high praise. I’ve heard nothing but great things about this book, I HAVE to pick it up. I’m having a hard time thinking of unreliable narrators that I actually LIKED, LOL. The Other Typist and We Were Liars were certainly up there in the crazy narrator list, even though I was rather “meh” on both books. Maybe I just don’t like unreliable narrators?

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  4. I love love loved this book and can’t believe how much I was championing the cause of two fairly uninspiring women! Great read and have been recommending it to everyone 🙂 I love reading a review of someone who thought like me on it.