The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: Spoiler Discussion

January 28, 2015 Mysteries/Thrillers 254

If you have not read The Girl on the Train and are planning to, do not read any further. There are SPOILERS in this post. Check out my spoiler free review instead!

Stop Sign

The Girl on the Train is one of those books that you just want to talk about…and I mean using details. I really don’t have that much to say about it without spoiling things. So, for the first time ever, I’ve written a blog post with spoilers!

The Girl on the train, paula hawkins


Affiliate Link: Buy from Amazon

What was your take on Rachel and her many issues?
  • Delving into Rachel’s issues was my favorite part of the book. She is pathetic on the surface, but has more complexity than meets the eye. Sometimes I wanted to shake her and say, “really, you can’t resist G&T’s out of a CAN?!! Pull yourself together!”. Those sound disgusting, incidentally. But, she ends up showing grit, courage, and tenacity (corkscrew to the neck?!)…and the way Hawkins let it play out made the change in her completely believable.
  • I was fascinated with her alcoholic blackouts and the pure trauma they caused in her life. The thing that struck me most about this was how vulnerable the blackouts made her. And, how this vulnerability coupled with her shame about each of these incidents caused her to believe the worst of herself. She was ripe for the pickings, shall we say.
  • I liked how Hawkins explained how she got like this and tied her downward spiral to her infertility struggle, which seemed like a very realistic scenario to me. This also made me sympathize with her more than I would with your average alcoholic.
  • But, Rachel’s issues weren’t just booze related. She seemed be trying to fill the purposelessness of her life, which caused her to go to extreme lengths to matter…to anyone, about anything. Viewed from this angle, she seemed like an obsessive, stalkerish attention-whore.
  • But, you can also look at her behavior as that of an innately sweet girl who possibly did something horrible (or saw something horrible) while blacked out. And the guilt associated with that drove her to extreme lengths to try to make it right.
What exactly is Tom?
  • Something is clearly wrong in his head, but what is it? Is he a sociopath? Does he have anger issues? He’s not just a guy who killed his mistress in a fit of rage over her threats to expose her pregnancy…he was manipulating and abusing Rachel prior to Megan. I kind of want a diagnosis for him!
  • He actually reminded me of a guy a friend of mine dated long ago. Not the murderous inclinations (obviously!), but the ability to convince his girlfriend that she had mental problems and needed to be in therapy when he was the one that was completely screwed up (liar, cheater, etc). Just like Tom turned the tables on Rachel and exacerbated her drunken spiral. 
  • Hawkins gave us next to nothing about Tom. We know he “lied about everything, all the time”. Other than that, we know he wasn’t in the Army like he said and his fallout from his parents played out differently than he said. But, what else do we really know? Not much! Why is he this sociopathic? Why does he lie all the time? What is his background? I want to know more!
Is Scott the only sane person in this whole mess?
  • Though he was innocent in all this and was understandably not his normal self given he had just lost his wife, learned he was essentially married to a stranger, and was a murder suspect, I thought he had some issues of his own.
  • He showed violent tendencies toward Rachel and Megan when he was angry. Why? I needed some sort of explanation for this behavior once it was confirmed that he wasn’t the killer.
Did anyone see the end coming?
  • I was fairly certain Scott hadn’t killed Megan, as that would have been way too obvious.
  • For a very brief time, I thought maybe Anna was the killer (because of Rachel’s feelings of fear around her). A female killer would have been different and kind of interesting!
  • But, when Anna said, “He’s a really good liar”, I was pretty sure it was Tom. And, once Scott learned that Megan’s baby wasn’t his, I knew for sure. I understand Hawkins had to lay a little groundwork so the ending didn’t seem too random, but did she give away too much, too early? She sure didn’t surprised me…and I’m usually not that great at guessing endings.

Let’s talk! What did you think about all the sordid details?!

If you enjoy these types of spoiler discussions, check similar ones on the following books:

After the Crash by Michel Bussi
All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker
Behind her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough
Where They Found Her
by Kimberly McCreight

Get Weekly Email Updates!

254 Responses to “The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins: Spoiler Discussion”

  1. BooksMetro

    I think she did give away too much. I started to suspect Tom and Megan were having an affair when an unnamed guy drove down the street and she caught his eye. Who else could it have been? And if Scott didn’t kill her (too obvious) then it had to be Tom +/- Anna. Fun read though. I’m glad Rachel got herself together at the end!

    • admin

      I thought it was the shrink for awhile too (before I thought it was Anna or Tom), but then the shrink became too obvious in the way that Scott was.

    • Aashimi

      I think I completely missed the line when some unnamed person catches MEgan’s eye. Can you point me to the chapter/page?

      • admin

        I’m unfortunately not sure what you’re referring to! I read this one back in January 🙂 But, maybe another reader knows?

      • TimC

        pg 27 – last line of the first Megan chapter – Tuesday September 25, 2012 – evening.

    • Laurie

      I think Anna killed Megan and Tom was lying for her and about to take get rid of Rachel and Anna turned on him…

    • Nigel

      exactly – that was just poor writing and gave the whole game away. it was about 30 odd pages in and im sitting there thinking ‘why did she put that through away line in and give us the answer to the whole plot?’

  2. Donna @ OnDBookshelf

    I agree with you completely about the ending. I don’t really read many mysteries, so I am inept at guessing the “whodunnit”, but I did figure this one out (at exactly the same point you did). As frustrated as I was with Rachel at times, I kept rooting for her to get it together by the end of the book. I also gave this 4 stars, I really liked it, but didn’t love it.

    • Sweetue

      I too suspected tom after anna says hes a good liar.. u can believe him..

      But what bothers me the most is that poor ol rachel was being insulted the whole time in the book… U kno shes being called fat.. tom calls her a dog and also scott speaks of falling standards when officer riley suspects of an affair..
      Anyways my point is that she suffered so much the whole time but she didnt have a very “satisfactory ending”.. if that makes any sense.. i feel she should hav been shown as atleast havinh a job and looking aatractive again..

      N i kno this may soumd wierd but i was kinda hoping she would end up with scott.. that would hav been perfect..!!

  3. Tara @ Running 'N' Reading

    I find it interesting that Hawkins left so much of this open for discussion, and I kind of like it! I, too, thought at one point that Anna must be the villain but I think when she and Rachel were in the house together and Tom is outside, acting strangely and getting upset, that the pieces starting falling into place. One of my blogging friends (who regularly reads my reviews and then the book) said that she just couldn’t buy in to Tom as the killer; she couldn’t imagine him being “that bad,” she said. It’s definitely a valid point of view but I think that Rachel’s character demonstrates that there can be so much more beneath the surface that we don’t initially see. Anyway…I could go on for days! Great questions and review, Sarah!

    • admin

      I think that’s a great point about Tom and possibly plays into why I felt like I needed more background on him. I needed some more signs of whatever is wrong with him (maybe sociopathic tendencies?). However, even though Tom is hard to buy in some ways, it was easy to guess the ending. Unfortunately, I don’t think the combination of those two factors bodes well for this one!

  4. Rita @ View From My Home

    I guessed that it was Tom fairly early on, though I kept doubting myself along the way, which made it kind of fun. I did for a time pick Anna as the murderer, and could even understand if it was her. I did wonder why she gave us such an obvious red herring as Scott, since she made him so violent, and when he locked Rachel up in the room, my heart sank because I thought she was pointing out that he was guilty already and I wasn’t ready for the story to end that way.

    I enjoyed Rachel, despite all her many flaws, and I could believe that someone could get wrapped up in strangers’ lives, but she took it to the extreme, and I think it was because she had such self-hatred for her infertility, her inability to keep a man, and her drinking and her weight problem, that she needed to escape her dreadful life and enter a better one somewhere else. If this is the case though,. this points to her having some unaddressed mental issues, since all of us are guilty of this envy at some point, but don’t follow through in the manner that Rachel ultimately did. I mean, visiting Scott, more than once? I shook my head at that action.
    Thanks Sarah, for this discussion– I love it, since no one in my immediate circle is/will read this!

    • admin

      I agree that Anna seemed to have a pretty good motive – and, I thought she was incredibly smug about her affair with Tom while he was married to Rachel. She was so insecure that she got pleasure out of being the mistress and so dense that she never thought he’d do the same thing to her.
      I think Rachel certainly had some unaddressed mental issues, but I think Tom probably exacerbated those to the extreme with his manipulation of her during the tail end and following their marriage (i.e. making up things she’d done while drunk and blacked out).
      Yeah – the visiting Scott was totally over the top – even for an unstable person! I can see the exaggerating with detectives and even seeing the shrink….but befriending Scott was just plain weird.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  5. Ashley Farley

    Very clever move to have this spoiler post. Where’s the discussion in a book like this when you can’t openly analyze the outcome. You are a kinder reader than me. I never got past Rachel the obsessive stalker attention whore. I understood her drunken depression over her failed marriage and infertility. I just didn’t feel sorry for her because I didn’t like her. Call me mean. I saw the ending coming a mile away. At least from about the same point everyone else did. The book ended for me there. I hardly paid attention to the last few minutes of my audiobook. Really great discussion Sarah. Kudos.

    • admin

      I had so much to say about this one and most of it required spoiling the book, so I didn’t see any other way! Plus, I figured this would be one that enough people to sustain a spoiler post would have read (or end up reading). I definitely looked at Rachel as you did at times, but as things started to play out a bit more, I started to see that what were weaknesses in her character were totally exacerbated by Tom manipulating her. Plus, I liked that she showed strength at the end. But, I completely saw her the way you did in the beginning. Her lack of responsibility for herself was just horrendous. Thanks for participating!

  6. Kally

    The book was definitely a page turner at first but once I figured out who did it then the book became predictable and lost its appeal for me because most of the characters were not developed enough and the writing was average. I think Rachel was the only character who was fleshed out.

  7. Cleo

    I would have been upset if the clues hadn’t been there and to be honest I suspected all the characters at some point. My firm favourite was Rachel,so I was completely off target!

  8. Bianca

    Thank you for this post. I always like spoiler discussions especially with a book like this as my impulse after it’s done is to see what others thought.

  9. Katherine

    Thanks for the post, but what did you think of Anna? I was so angry during the final scenes. I think Rachel says it best at one point, something to the effect that Anna is not angry about Tom being a cheat and murderer but that he compares Anna to Rachel. Is Anna not also a sociopath? Especially after the quasi threat at the police station? Her action/inaction speak volumes.

    • Steph

      I agree! Anna was awful. Her failure to act at the end clearly showed she was quite happy for Tom to murder Rachel. She calmly went upstairs to put the baby to sleep in the full knowledge he was going to kill Rachel.She had plenty of opportunity to call the police but didn’t. She only came down because she realised she’d be at risk herself. Then sat on the stairs with the phone “waiting for the right moment”. When? After Rachel was dead? And why did she finish off Tom? Rachel was clearly acting in self defence but Anna wasn’t. Definitely another sociopath.

      • Sweetie

        No but the point is that anna was scared of rachel not fot herself but for her baby eevie… Thats y she wanted her dead so there wouldnt be any threat for her baby girl…

      • Cerri

        I agree! Anna was going to let Tom kill Rachel. Anna sat with the phone and was “waiting for the right moment”. She was going to call the police after Tom killed Rachel and then turn Tom into the police. Then she would be rid of them both- Tom and Rachel.

        I realized it was Tom when Rachel first feels like she remembers Anna walking away from her into Tom’s car. I recalled all the times she compared Anna and Megan before and rI thought it was Megan she was remembering getting into Toms car. But at that point I didn’t know why or how it was Tom.

  10. Sammy

    As an avid reader of thrillers I sadly figured this out far too fast! As soon as the unnamed man caught Megan’s eye I figured it must be Tom and that Tom must be the killer.
    When Anna, in her narrative, described him quickly shutting his laptop I knew it couldn’t only be Rachael he was keeping from her!
    Having guessed early on you’d think I’d have been bored by the story but in fact I loved the way the story played out – it was fascinating and a gripping read!

    • admin

      I’m with you. The psychological elements were what really kept me going and they saved the book for me.

  11. Susan

    Am I the only one who thought Rachel was actually perhaps Anna? Odd I know, but my mind kept going there. Then I wondered if Megan, Rachel, and Anna were all the same person. I was taken off guard when Tom went beserk. Same with Scott actually. There were so many parallels with the characters ..all of them..even the children, Libby and Evie who play out parts in the adults’ lives. And what of the man with the red hair on the train? Was there ..or could there have been more to him than we knew?

    • chris

      Susan
      I was glad to see you post. I was definitely thinking multiple personality disorder. Even with Meghan involved. So many parallels with baby issues, therapy visits and man problems. I thought her memories were hidden because they happened to her other self.

      Chris

      • admin

        Now…this is interesting! This never once crossed my mind while reading the book, but now that you mentioned it, I can kind of see it. How crazy would the book have been if this had turned out to be the case?! I think that would have made me like it even more…because I sure wouldn’t have guessed this ending!

        • christine

          I was thinking all 3 were the same person too! I was hoping in the end that she had some sort of mental disorder and then shock all that were reading. But instead I was left with to me was a bad ending to a book I had high expectations for.

          • admin

            Wasn’t it a bad ending?! I thought so too! Such a letdown…

          • Chrissy

            I think we can still consider this theory even with the ending! Maybe that is the reality! It hadn’t occurred to me at all, but I almost want to read it again with that in mind. I’m a sucker for conspiracy theories.

      • Cristina

        Chris,
        Yes I was wondering about the multiple personalities perspective. How Rachel said she felt someone was in her home rearranging things, how she said Scott’s home was like Tom’s home. Then the similarity between Megan’s wounds (cut on hand, and the same abusive blow to the head) was to Rachel’s……then Anna’s snooping through Tom’s information..and drinking Wine and hiding it…..other similarities between Tom and Scott…I was kinda hoping this was the case at the end.

    • Angela

      I had the same thoughts about Rachel – wondering if she had multiple personality disorder and if they were actually the same woman. I also wanted to know more about the man with the red hair – he seemed to be forgotten about, I was expecting a better tie-in I guess. I had a bad feeling about Tom when Rachel was recalling a feeling she had of being scared of him during one of her “black outs” while still with Tom. The author alluded to the fact that Rachel didn’t trust her instincts and feelings because of her addiction & black outs and Tom used that against her when she was drinking. Maybe she wasn’t always “black out” drunk, but actually knocked out by him. My feelings that things weren’t right with Tom happened when he was being extra nice and caring to Rachel when they were talking in the car, and also when Anna realizes how much he lies. I enjoyed the book though, it was a fast easy read and kept me guessing for a little bit.

      • admin

        I agree with you on the red-haired man on the train. What purpose did he end up serving? He was such an obvious “suspect” in the beginning, but was sort of left by the wayside when all the loose ends up were tied up.

        And – yes – I wonder if Rachel could have been more than just blacked out. So many unanswered questions about Tom!!

    • admin

      Now…this is interesting! This never once crossed my mind while reading the book, but now that you mentioned it, I can kind of see it. How crazy would the book have been if this had turned out to be the case?! I think that would have made me like it even more…because I sure wouldn’t have guessed this ending!

    • Katie

      THANK YOU! I’m soooo glad I’m not the only one who overthought and went darker than it actually did!

      I was ready for several possibilities, one of which was all 3 women were 1 person with multiple personalities that were triggered by abuse and drinking. I was waiting to see if Tom had gotten the therapist or someone else to actually hypnotize her into believing one of the other stories about herself (they kept saying don’t do hypnosis, but it never went anywhere). I thought it was going to tie in and work! I ALSO thought (and this is way out-there!), what if Rachel is actually THE GHOST of Megan, who rides the train to work everyday, grieving the life she never had?! Because look how that would work with the last sentence about catching the train again. 😉

      Loose ends that bother me:
      What were the clothes by the train track at the beginning?
      Why did Rachel wake up naked and weird the night after in her home?

      Regardless! It made me get creative and imaginative, and I loved the read! Good stuff!

      • Trisha

        Katie I am searching for answers to the pile of clothing too! I must have missed something and it seemed so significant! Maybe she is leaving it open for another murder mystery in the same town? Lol. I don’t know.

        • admin

          I noticed that too…I wondered if it was Megan’s, but could never piece together how that would make any sense given how her murder played out.

          • Steph

            I think the clothes were just a way to give us some insight into the way Rachel’s mind works. She’s quite dark, immediately wondering what happened to the owner of the clothes. Imagining something awful. (I can relate to that as I always have a little shudder when I see a single shoe somewhere!) I think that’s why she gets so obsessed with Scott; she feels like she knows him because she’s spent all that time imagining him. A common theme there: none of them really know each other as they thought they did.

          • Heather

            I thought they were an insight into Rachel’s thoughts, but also symbolic of someone who was there and then just gone–poof! Libby, Megan…

        • Hugh

          I think the clothing was a foreshadowing of the child that Megan accidentally drowned. There was also some sort of unfinished rock wall thing in Scott and Megan’s garden, that called back to the cairn Megan and Mac made for the dead infant. The story had many elements that echoed one another and added to the drunken memory/dream/lies narrative.

          I think it was just a way to add suspense and intrigue. The redheaded man served the same function to distract and confuse. I won’t say I had it figured out as others do. I didn’t trust the narrators and was suspicious of everyone’s version of events, prepared to accept any ultimate reality. I thought the story was well told.

      • Demaris Hill

        I also thought for awhile all 3 women were the same person! And Katie, the ghost idea crossed my mind too. I am not an avid mystery reader, except Dan Brown. I am more of a Tom Clancy/Brad Meltzer reader. But I was surprised at the end. I ran the gamut from Anna to Kamal to Scott to Rachel. I never did understand the significance of the pile of clothes by the track and later when she sees a blue dress with a flower on it in a pile next to the tracks during a dream. The “pile of clothes” is even in one of the discussion questions. I liked the book. I thought is was entertaining and an easy read. I read Gone Girl as well and liked this book better simply because of the ending. I HATE when the bad guy wins and in this one the “good guy” wins. I felt sorry for Rachel and was the glad the author finished the story with her getting her life together.

    • Maureen

      I, too thought that Rachel, Megan and Anna were the same person who had a dissociated disorder and the narratives of all three were scenes from one’s person’s life at differnt times. Each woman had similar issues, control, abuse, drinking….It would have been interesting if that was the case….also thought Rachel was dead and telling her story as a ghost….. wish there was more about red haired stranger and character of Tom was more developed …why did he develop sociopathic personality? What was the story of the clothes by the tracks in the beginning of book? Why did Rachel run to the back of the yard with baby Evie? Great read tho and bravo to Rachel for sticking the corkscrew in Tom’s neck…Anna too for finishing him off. Hope this author writes another novel soon. Who will play Rachel, Megan, and Anna in the movie version…(all kind of looked alike in the book)…would be interesting to have the same actress play all three characters…really throw off those who didn’t read the book

      • Dana Stibor

        Thank you! It’s really bugging me that, unless I missed something, we never find out why Rachel had taken Evie.

        • Hugh

          I think the Evie stealing was key in making her an unreliable narrator. We knew she was off, she was an admitted drunk. She kept her ex-husbands name, she wanted to BE Anna and Megan/Jess.

          Her first foray into assuming another’s life was trying to steal the baby that she thought should have been hers. Then she imagined the life of perfect strangers with her ideal married life transposed on it. It was what drove her character to do all the inappropriate things that drove the plot. She followed these primitive impulses that she sort of knew she shouldn’t, and that paralleled her cycle of drunken behavior and shame.

          I don’t think I would have found her appointments with the psychiatrist believable if she hadn’t already demonstrated such consistent poor judgment and sense of boundries. Also, since the reader was in her head the whole time, it made it easy to understand the skepticism everyone felt towards her once she “figured it all out.” AND, made it all the more frustrating to think this time she was correct.

          • Heather

            I agree the Evie stealing was to portray her as unstable and unreliable. That combined with the stories of her violence during blackouts keep me wondering if she offed Megan in a drinking induced rage. Of course, then we find out that Tom was the one with a propensity for violence.

    • Debra

      I felt that way too!! I thought they all might have been the same person, they were all doing the same things in different ways. It was pretty great to read.

      Also, at the very end after Anna “warns” her to take care of herself – Rachel says, “we are tied together, forever bound by the stories we told: that I had no choice but to stab him in the neck; that Anna tried her best to save him”.
      Using the word “stories” to describe the statements they both gave to the police sounds super suspect. According to Rachel Anna dug the corkscrew in even further therefore NOT trying her best to save him SO would that mean that Rachel had another choice besides stabbing him in the neck?

      • Laurie

        I think Anna did it, Tom was covering for her…he struggled with trying to kill Rachel while Anna was upstairs thinking just get on with it.
        She was waiting for the right moment to call the police to incriminate Rachel- he could kill her and claim self-defense with all the evidence/stories they had about Rachel.
        The last few words confirmed it for me- Anna killed Megan and Tom was covering up for her.

        • admin

          Oooh – interesting theory..I’ll have to check back at the final words of the book and see how they fit in!

        • Madhu

          But if Anna killed Megan, was there any trail in the book to indicate she knew about the affair?
          Been a while since I read the book, but thought it was an interesting theory and I too remember having a doubt on Anna for some reason.

        • Elizabeth

          Anna helped finish off Megan…Megan saw someone else who said Look what you made me do…I think Megan was whispering that to Tim as she killed him.

    • Ernest

      Really intelligent analysis, highly possible since every part of the book is narrated and thus making the entire book itself prone to being unreliable, very nice thinking you have there

    • Laura

      I don’t know if Multiple Personalities is right.. I honestly think that the author just didn’t do a good job differentiating or expanding the characters

      women = weak, manipulated, therapy, fertility
      babies = girls, turning points
      men = perfect gods, strong, manipulators, actually unhinged.

      • admin

        That was sort of the impression I got…I never thought multiple personalities as I was reading 🙂

    • Karen Snyder Moore

      OMG! Well, I also think this is a Multiple Personality Saga…which makes it all the more interesting!
      In fact, I cannot believe that you are the only one other than me (so far in my reading of reviews) who saw this as One Female living different roles in her twisted mind!
      Freaky…

      • Steve

        I definitely believe and from very early on this is multiple personalities. That to me is what makes the book interesting.

    • Fiona Summers

      I also think Rachel is suffering from a personality disorder and the entire narrative is her own reality and psychoanalysis. She even mentions transferrance to Scott after Dr Kamal has mentioned it to Megan. How many of the men brush their thumbs on their ladies’ cheekbones? Why does Scott’s house become unrecognizable? The small pile of rocks marking Libby’s grave versus the small pile by the fence of the garden- where she runs with Libby. The endless train tracks- including in Holkomb. The institutionalized vacuuming outside her room.
      I think she has experienced the trauma of losing a child. Tom is possibly what she creates as her punishment. The train is her therapy and journey to sanity. The alcoholism is symbolism for her madness- hence the corkscrew. She has managed to rid of herself of Megan, she and Anna have killed off Tom, but as Anna warns her, she’ll have to fight to make her go away. She leaves us still traveling by train, and still momentarily mistaking a priest for Scott.
      Does anyone buy that?

    • Patty

      I absolutely agree with you Susan -Feb. 2015. I think they are all the same person. By the end of the book she is far from healed.
      In this book she was only able to put Megan to rest. Megan was her younger self, the one who fell asleep in the bath.
      Also, Tom and Scott are the same people. Tom was the who Rachael loved and Scott was the side of Tom she refused to see.
      Rachael cannot face the fact that she killed her husband in self defense.
      I’m pretty sure that her promiscuity (Tom did not want to father a child)and the birth of her child(her memories of her 1st child and what could/should have been) were all subconscious thoughts and not real.

    • Drake

      I thought the same thing. All of the subtle parallels made me think Anna, Rachel and Megan were the same person. Even the end with Megan not having a head stone, just Libby. I felt like the therapist knew and was trying to help get closure for each personality.

  12. Sabrina

    Just finished. Great book. So glad I picked up reading again after 10 years!! One big question I have about the ending…do Rachael and Anna tell the police that Tom killed Megan or is it their secret between them?? Driving me nuts!!

    • admin

      I’m embarrassed to say I can’t remember! My book memory is horrible…once I get a few books past something, the details get really hazy! And I’m many books past this one now…

    • Peggy

      Sabrina, I just finished the book (really liked it) and have the same question. It’s driving me nuts too – so nuts that I went online and FINALLY found this post from you. I am surprised her editor(s) didn’t ask her to resolve it. So is there something in the book that indicates that Anna/Rachel told the police that Tom killed Megan? I read and re-read the ending and the answer was not there. I can understand if Anna did not want the world to know that her baby’s father was a murderer but that should have been stated in the book. I still think it was great book!

      • Ernest

        that is possibly an intended effect from the book given that the book is narrated. you cannot totally trust what was said from the narrators or even the book itself. the characters or even the entire incident might be imaginary, the beauty of a biased story

        • Hugh

          Have you read “A sense of an ending.” Maddening unreliable narrator. I read it twice and still don’t know what actually happened.

    • christine

      I’m assuming they tell the police because of the paragraph that talks abt Tom being in the paper and all the lies he told.

    • Mia

      I think they didn’t tell because Anna thought it would make their story doubtful, that maybe it wasn’t self defense but murder to avenge another woman’s murder and their own agony after being married to a murderer. She would have had lots of time to tell Rachel exactly what to say (and what not to say) before the police arrived and they were sitting together on the couch waiting for the police which also implies they had talked before. The female detective did voice some doubt when she said Rachel’s wounds didn’t look defensive. Also she and the police officer couldn’t look Rachel in the eyes (I thought because they thought she killed him and got away with it because of the lack of proof.) The author was very clear in describing exactly what was said to the police too even though previously she had left out chunks of dialogue that we discovered was said later in the story, but since this was the end of the story, wrapping things up, I didn’t think that was the case during this part. Also Rachel feels warned by Anna not to tell anything else either in the way Anna says good bye to Rachel saying to take care of herself, probably in her tone of voice and expression, leaving Rachel knowing they are tied together forever bound by their stories (and their secret, that Tom was the murderer). Interesting that the author left that part unsaid, their secret, kept it quiet exactly like the characters did!

  13. Marcy Suter

    What is the significance about the train in the last paragraph? Why can’t Rachael sleep at the end?

    • christine

      I don’t think there is much significance in the train at the end except for the fact that Rachel states earlier she wants as much distance between her and everything that has happened. Also, she’s been having nightmares throughout the book. She states she will not be able to sleep because of the nightmares she’s been having but that they will eventually stop.The murder has been solved and Rachel’s questions have been answered eventually the nightmares will cease.

  14. Danielle

    I was wondering who leaked the information about her first baby. I don’t believe that the therapist would do that and if the father, Mac, was dead then who?
    Am I missing something?

    • Hugh

      It had to be the shrink. I assume he was violating confidentiality to cover his own butt when he was a suspect. He obviously played loose with the whole doctor/patient thing since he had an affair with a patient.

      • deedee

        But did he have an affair with Meg? Who was the man in the motel. Is it possible it was Tom!??

    • Tat

      I think it might have been Tom that revealed the story of Megan’s firstborn daughter. In a flashback, Tom reiterates that Megan would make a bad mother. Couple that with the fact that Megan feels for Tom what she never felt for anyone else and I think it’s possible she revealed her deepest secret to him as well. Also, he might have told that story for profit. He never seems to have money and suddenly he wants to go on vacation with Anna to Mauritius. What bothered me at the end was the fact that there didn’t seem to be any justice for Megan. She was painted as a villain. Having said that the only reason I got through the book was because I started it. I thought the pace was dragging, the characters were really unlikeable and there were unanswered questions at the end.

      • Alee

        It was exactly the same situation with me. I started the book and hence I felt I had to complete it. Also the hype of it becoming a film made me want to complete it. I didn’t feel connected to the characters. The characters where very brief. I think I am the only person who didn’t see this ending coming. Things like the clothes on the track and ginger man took me off course. But these things became irrelevant anyway but I think the writer intended to use these things as distractions. I thought it was Scott and Kamal. But Tom squeezing Rachel’s hand really hardly due to her crazy chapter of taking baby Evie stuck to my head. It’s been a year since I picked a book up. It’s decent read and short. I would recommend. And do believe this writer has great potential.

  15. Rose O

    I think the reason mulitple personalities comes up is because not only are the characters experiences similar but the voices are as well. They are interchangable using the same language, slang and depressed anxiety filled view of life. I found if I didn’t pay attention at the beginning of the chapter, I wouldn’t know who was speaking. Overall, I didn’t enjoy the book because I thought all the women were so alike- and unlikeable!

  16. Nish

    She totally surprised me. I thought it was Anna all the way through. I never guessed Tom, I guess because I was going by Rachel’s instincts all along – the sense of fear etc.

  17. Christy

    I’m hoping to get some answers here! First, were all those scenes between Megan and her lover, set up to make the reader assume it was Kamal, really with Tom? And Kamal only really kissed her once, and that was the kiss Rachel saw? Second, when Scott trapped Rachel, she tucked a large shard of glass in her back pocket, and then . . .nothing! I kept waiting for her to take it out of her pocket and use it. In fact, I was sure she’d use it on Tom. Why have Rachel do that and then never come back to it? I thought that was very poorly done on the author’s part. And, like others, I’m wondering whether Rachel and Anna turned Tom in as the murderer. I assumed they did–to give closure to poor Scott, and also to be a motive to explain Tom’s attack on R&A. But I can see Anna not wanting it known.

    • admin

      I think there were a lot of loose ends on this one that were never addressed. I can’t remember if Rachel and Anna turned Tom in…I feel like they did, but it’s been a couple months since I read the book and the details are becoming hazy!

      Interesting point about Megan and who we all assumed was Kamal possibly being Tom? I have no idea if that was the case, but it’s interesting to think about…

      • Karen

        The reason I doubted Megan was having an affair with Kamal is that he would then be a possible father to her baby. Only Scott and Tom were mentioned. I thought it was an oversight by the author until I reread a few Megan sections.

    • Amy

      I have the same questions as you! Another thing I am confused about was why Scott acted like he didn’t know she was having an affair. She had told him before she died and he never mentioned it and acted shocked when Rachel told him the first time.
      Also, Amal had to be the one to mention the child, because no one else knew. But if he broke code with that little bit, why not expose her affair with Tom?

      • Dee

        OMG what a GREAT point!! That is so true, why did he act so shocked. She had already told him.

        • Shelly

          Scott acted shocked when Rachel told him about seeing Megan with Kemal because it helped him look innocent. Had it been known to Rachel that Scott knew about the affair, he would have had a clear motive to kill Megan. His feigned ignorance allowed him to seem innocent in Rachel’s eyes, thus the continued storyline of Rachel visiting him.

    • Carolyn

      I, too, waited for her to use the large shard of glass on Tom. Regarding the “handy” corkscrew, what are the odds that Anna, having lived in the house as long as she had, would not have rearranged the drawers and moved the corkscrew? I thought Rachel opening the drawer and pulling it out to use on Tom was far-fetched!!

      • Susan

        Corkscrew was perfect… after all the wine Anna drank… and did you see how Tom was turning Anna into the same … Would Rachel ever have been an alcoholic if it was not for Tom’s manipulation? He deserved the corscrew… from both

  18. christine

    Just finished the book and I have a question, did Megan have an affair with Kamal her therapist?

    • Carmen

      I do not think so. However, in our book club, three out of six readers thought they did sleep together. I just cannot find any details or evidence to confirm this. Any thoughts?

    • Liz

      I just reread and it’s quite clear on a second read that she was having the affair with Tom, not Kamal. She always says “he” when refering to tom but refers to Kamal by name. And she tries it on with Kamal, but he firmly says “No, this is just transference, what you’re feeling” indicating that he had put a stop to her actions before they became physical.

      • Lindsay

        I agree with this, but the only question I still have is who did Rachel see Megan kiss from the train? You’d think that she’d recognize Tom.

        • admin

          I feel like the consensus is that she was kissing Kamal (the therapist), but it was more of a “goodbye” type kiss than a “we’re having an affair” type kiss. But, I still don’t know if I’m really buying all this…

      • Hugh

        What? Megan said that she went to Kamal’s flat and it was a mess. He touched her lower back, told her he’d have to refer her to another psychiatrist. She barged into his office and tried to fool around and he responded as if they had previously been intimate. I didn’t find that part up for grabs at all!

  19. Celia

    Did Megan actually have an affair with her therapist or were all of those chapters describing a romantic encounter all about tom but we were made to think they were about the therapist! Need more input please!

    • admin

      I always thought she actually did have the affair with the therapist. But, I could certainly be wrong!

      • Donna

        But she was kissing him, right? And Rachel saw that- unless it was another dark skinned man- and there were hints she was serial in her affairs. I listened also and thought kamal did have an affair which bothered me. Now I have to find out—

      • Liz

        I just reread the book again and all the times she is having the affair a name is never mentioned. It’s very cleverly interwoven… the scenes where she calls Kamal by his name but then refers to her mystery man she’s having an affair with only as “him”. When
        Kamal says he can’t be her therapist anymore it’s directly AFTER she tried it on with him, but he put a stop to it immediately, explaining it as transference. The way that it is written makes it very unclear in a way that manipulates the reader in a very clever way.

        The kiss she saw was the one time Kamal kisses her, after she finishes telling him her story about her baby with Tom when she comes to her house. It’s not passionate, but more than a therapist. V clever red herring.

        • Shelly

          Thank you Liz for clearing this up. The greatest twist of the book in my opinion. Even the admin of this site missed it. I was also totally fooled! Megan did not have an affair with Kemal!!!! It was Scott all along. (I also went back and re-read the Megan passages). Realizing this was like a Sixth Sense moment for me. Clever, clever author!

          • Navid

            Megan did not have an affair with Dr. Kamal. Megan met *him* on page 47 at Swan which Tom reiterates on page 298.This is one of the best twists of the book that changed my whole perspective and people saying the ending was predictable; I am quite certain most people missed this important piece of info that goes on to show Megan was not as flawed as we think her to be. She only had one affair that she felt guilty about and it also makes Dr. Kamal’S claims of not having an affair and subsequent lack of evidence an accurate description from the author. The author is a pure genius in making is believe it was Kamal. Kudos to her.

        • CS

          I listened to the audiobook version of this, and they gave Kamal an exotic, middle eastern-sounding accent. When she’s talking to the man in the hotel that she’s having an affair with (the one who keeps insisting “we can’t do this again”) he simply has a British accent. Because of that, I knew the man in the hotel wasn’t Kamal, but I didn’t suspect into toward the end it could be Tom. I thought it was the red-haired man!

          • CS

            Reading more below, I’m thinking I listened to a different audio version, because in mine the women voiced Kamal and he had a Middle-Eastern accent throughout.

          • Ruchi

            It sounded like Megan’s lover could be Tom the moment the author mentioned he decided to talk about how he left behind his family (Anna and the kid), the ex-wife who ruined his life (Rachel). Also, there’s a point where Megan suggests going somewhere nice and her lover (then unnamed) suggests Thailand. Megan says it would be too crowded with gap year kids. Later in the book, there’s a chapter where Tom suggests going somewhere nice, taking a holiday. He suggests two places- Bali and Mauritius (I think). That’s when I was absolutely certain Tom was the lover.

            I wasn’t sure who the murderer was though until the very end.

      • XLM

        All the steamy chapters with “him” are about Tom. Like another poster, I realized that when I saw the hotel name “Swan.” But also, in the last chapters when Tom was coming clean about his affair with Megan, he said that Megan wanted to go to Spain. I went back to page 93, Megan chapter March 7, 2013, and Megan was telling “him” that she wanted to go to Costa de la luz. That and “Swan” confirmed it for me that all those chapters about her physical affairs are with Tom.

        I also noticed the unnamed driver catching Megan’s attention at the end of the first Megan chapter and thought that it might be Tom, but then forgot about it. Good clue.

  20. ruth fetterhoff

    Finally! A website where we can freely discuss all the items sometimes passed over in deference to those who have not read the book. I know this will become a favorite site for me to visit frequently. Since this is my first visit, I’ve received more than I’ve given. Thanks to you all!

    • karen

      I was thrilled to find this site as well, but for a different reason. I could not get into this book at all. I think it’s because I was so disgusted with the characters. I kept putting it down after a few pages, finally stopped reading around page 100 and returned the book to the library. So i just wanted a quick synopsis of what happened! Thanks everyone!

  21. Debbie

    Celia, I think you’re right….I listened to the audio, and thought everything was all wrapped up nice and neat when I finished. Waiting for another book to become available, I thought I’d listen to it again, to see if I’d missed anything. It wasn’t until the second time through that I realized that the scenes where Megan was with another man, clearly having an affair, the man’s name was never mentioned. It was only when Megan came to the therapist’s office and started coming onto him that he told her he couldn’t be her therapist anymore. We just assumed it was because they had an affair. And I’m pretty sure that all the things that Tom threw back in Rachel’s and Anna’s face, toward the climatic end, were things that he had done with Megan, right? I haven’t finished going through the whole thing again, but I suspect that’s the deal….there never really was an affair with the therapist, it was always with Tom. Unless I’m missing something. And the funny thing is that most people who read the entire book will never realize that they’ve been fooled! I mentioned it to my daughter, who had recommended it to me, and she was astonished because it had never occurred to her. I imagine that most readers will be this way.

    • admin

      OK – now you’ve made me want to go back and read it again (at least these parts). If I’ve been fooled about this, it will make me like the book so much more than I did!! The details as you’ve laid them out seem plausible to me, but it’s been awhile since I read the book so the little stuff is a bit hazy for me now.

      • Debbie

        I’ve spent the last hour going over every conversation in the book…..the author was very clever and sneaky….I think she even hinted at what she was up to when Megan’s character says on page 56 (location 773) “I have to keep things vague, jumble up all the men, the lovers and the exes….” This is EXACTLY what the author was doing to us. Brilliant! Read it again and you’ll see….I can’t wait to discuss this one with my book club and see if anyone else figured it out!

        • admin

          Report back on what your book club says! If this is the case, isn’t it weird that it’s not more “out there” in the media? Or at least the book media and/or among the bloggers?! I haven’t seen this touched on at all among the bloggers…

    • Resa Haile

      I thought it was clear throughout that Kamal had turned her down but she was having an affair with Tom–after all, she worked in his household, he had a mistress during his first marriage, etc. I did think the author wanted readers to think it was Kamal, but that they would realize at the end, when the kiss was finally shown from Megan’s viewpoint. (Then it was revealed as a “Good luck, you’re going to be fine” kind of thing.)

  22. Steph

    Just finished the book and loving this site. I did think Megan was having an affair with Kamal initially but with hindsight I don’t think they did. The unnamed lover cut Megan off and we do later find out that Tom did that so I’m sure that was Tom. I think she came on to Kamal and there relationship stretches the bounds of professionalism but if you assume the unnamed man is Tom, then what we actually see is only Kamal pushing her away (apart from a couple of kisses).

  23. JoAnn @ Lakeside Musing

    Now that I’ve read the book, I can come back to your spoiler post. First, what a great idea! You can’t really talk about any of this stuff in a review. Second, I really enjoyed the book and didn’t figure out it was Tom until around the 70% mark. Before that I thought it might have been Anna, too. Yes, Scott may be the only sane one in the entire story. And what was with the red-haired guy on the train? What purpose did he serve? A red herring?

    Rachel is a great character! The alcoholic black-outs provided a fascinating twist… but G&Ts from a can?Disgusting! I need to read more psychological thrillers.

    • Alex

      Honestly I thought the red haired guy on the train was Mac (his name sounds Irish so I thought it plays well with him having red hair). And Mac was about to get revenge for the fact that Megan ‘killed’ the baby. When I read that he died of a heroin overdose I didnt believe it. I thought he’s still around, I thought Paula Hawkins wanted us to make the connection between the red haired guy and Mac.

      But in the end, I was completely wrong. I have been on the wrong track so long and by learning that Tom killed Megan, I was totally shocked.

      Sorry for my English if some things sound weird, I read this book to practice my English.

    • Heather

      At one point early on even Rachel acknowledges how disgusting the G&Ts from a can are when she describes how a truly good G&T is made. I think it’s just another example of how low she’s fallen.

  24. Tia

    When the scenes with Megan and the unnamed lover were first playing out I assumed the lover was Kamal, yet questioned that turn of events because an affair with a client didn’t seem to fit the sympathetic, professional characterization that had been set up for him. I thought it was a flaw in the writing, but it was more like a little trick on the reader that I enjoyed! I also felt it was kind of brilliant the way Tom was written in the affair scenes (no quotes) so the reader didn’t hear his actual “voice,” which would definitely have given it away in the audio version that it wasn’t Kamal, with his accent. Hearing the audio version must also have made it easier for the reader to distinguish between Rachel/Anna/Meghan, because their voices were really well done with different accents and voice inflections that really influenced how I felt about the characters–Anna in particular was horrible. I too felt she was a sociopath who showed very little humanity except when it came to protecting Evie. As Rachel said, she and Tom were very well-suited to one another.

  25. kendall

    I see all of these comments and to be quite honest, I wasn’t super sure that Tom would be the killer from the jump. At first, I kind of thought he was a normal douchebag. Honestly, I thought Abdic was the culprit for the longest while, but then I kinda thought about Scott being it because of his vagueness. I just kinda thought Tom was in the middle of it and that Anna was a big bitch. I knew that Tom was a kleptomaniac, but I never really suspected the gaslighting or him being the murderer. Maybe I’m stupid. But that was a good read wow.

  26. Donna

    Regarding Tom- he enjoyed controlling people and even his life lies controlled the response of those who met him. Rachel being insecure alcoholic WITH a conscience was the perfect person to puppeteer into thinking she was beyond her worst fears. I was so relieved she didn’t commit the golf club incident etc but so angry that Tom could manipulate her downward spiral. Megan became out of control in his mind and had to go so I think that makes him a sociopath for sure. Even in the beginning of his romances he used the same line- I can’t be sane with you- which gives us a hint that he is not feeling his feelings but pretending to. It would be interesting to find out his boyhood crimes…

  27. Cheryl

    Initially I also thought Rachel was having an affair with Kamal. But then didn’t it say somewhere in the book that she never went upstairs in his house? Or they found no evidence of her upstairs? Not that that would mean absolutely not, but it got me thinking about it. Also, since the author lets us know he lives alone, I started to wonder why they would need to go to a hotel. That’s what made me think 1) it wasn’t him in the hotel and 2) that they probably weren’t having an affair.

  28. Kerry

    I had to reread all Megan’s parts to see if she was having an affair with the therapist, Kamal. The author was so vague and never gave names/details, so I don’t think it ever happened. Although I am confused when Megan (just before she storms his office and hits on him) is talking about being rejected (p. 132). She said it is not really rejection, that he’s just trying to do the right thing, “morally and professionally.” Profession shouldn’t come into play if she’s talking about Tom, but maybe she has hit on Kamal before and he rejected her. Thus making her rejected by both Tom and Kamal? And as far as Kamal giving up the information about the baby, I’m guessing he could share this info (as a therapist) because she was dead (and also to save himself from being investigated). I too thought that at some points maybe Rachel/Anna/Megan (or some combination) were the same person. That would have been interesting if that all played out! I would have liked to have more revealed about Tom’s past to gain insight on just how psychotic he was. I think Anna took that opportunity with the corkscrew because her perfect facade was destroyed (crazy, murderous husband) and she couldn’t deal that he could actually cheat on her. If she couldn’t handle what her friends were saying in the coffee shop about baby-killer Megan watching Evie, how could she explain this one away??

  29. Sara

    I just finished the book and I think it was pretty clear that the man Megan had the affair with was always Tom and that the only physical intimacy with the therapist occurred when she tried to kiss him and he pushed her away (once on his doorstep, once in his office), and then over the course of time while she told him about Libby during which they kissed once or twice. There is a lot of foreshadowing about Tom being the man of the affair – the way they catch eyes through the window of the car, a scene when she sees Anna the afternoon after having sex and says she doesn’t feel guilty, the way he traces her stomach with his finger (something he does with Anna in a later scene), the way that her feeling rejected occurred exactly when there was a break in the texts on the cell phone. I pretty much suspected tom as the affair the entire time but still loved the book, because the use of the blackouts as a device to make you doubt the narration was brilliant. And I didn’t necessarily expect him as the killer until I realized he was lying to rachel about the blackouts. Thanks so much for starting this thread – after a great read, I just want to discuss the end!!

    • admin

      Wow – you have an incredible memory for details!! I don’t remember half that stuff (but don’t doubt you)! What about the scene where Rachel (from the train window) sees Megan kissing “a dark skinned man” on her back deck? This detail is my big rub with all the “she was actually describing her affair with Tom” line of thought. If someone can explain that to me, then I’m IN!

      • Liz

        So here’s the explanation for that… When Megan panics about being pregnant and calls Kamal to come to her house and confesses everything and tells him she’s going to tell Scott and Tom, Kamal says to her “Youre going to be alright, both you and your baby” and KISSES HER. A friendly, comforting, good bye and good luck kiss. This kiss is mentioned in the book BUT because it’s been so long since Rachel saw it it’s hard to link the two events together. According to the diary dates, she tells Scott right after this, and goes missing the next day.

        So timeline: Meghan freaks, calls Kamal, he comes over, kisses her, Rachel sees, loses her shit, goes to confront her, meghan confronts Scott and Tom, goes missing. It all works out.

  30. Shannon

    But what about the red head?? What was the point of his character I thought he would have had more information…anyone feel this way?

    • admin

      I totally agree – I thought he would have a much bigger role, but he sort of ended up just fading away without any real explanation. I think he was also a red herring that we were supposed to think did something or had some shady role.

      • Nick

        I don’t know whether anyone else thought this but until I found out he had died, I thought the red head was Mac and he had come back to kill Megan! I also found it strange how Megan had never mentioned Tom, but thinking back, I couldn’t remember the author specifically stating that she was having sex with Kamal, and my thoughts were confirmed after reading this thread.

        • admin

          Here’s my one rub with the whole “Megan was actually describing her affair with Tom when we thought she meant Kamal”…didn’t Rachel see Megan with “a dark skinned” man on her deck while she was riding the train? And, Kamal was Indian or Middle Eastern (I can’t remember which)?

          How does that piece fit in?

          • Sara

            In my post above, I commented that Megan did in fact kiss Kamal once or twice. Their relationship definitely didn’t seem like a truly appropriate therapist-patient relationship, but once he terminated their relationship and she went to his house and asked to talk about Libby – they were affectionate a few times… I think he rubbed her back a couple times and they sort of cuddled and they kissed once or twice (now its been a couple weeks and I dont remember as well). I think Rachel happened to see them one of the only times that they kissed (and Megan described it clearly as happening after he was wishing her luck or something like that with the pregnancy and she gave him a hug and kissed him)… I just don’t think they ever had a true “affair” beyond that.

          • Susan

            Yes, as Sara points out, Rachel definitely saw Meghan kissing Kamal on her deck. I think it was the last time he saw her, and was he was basically telling her goodbye (hence the kiss).

            Meghan described the train rushing past at that moment as though it was a “wall” providing them with privacy, which is ironic — and very clever on the part of the author! — because Rachel saw them at that exact moment.

            Until I read this discussion I, too, thought that the affair Meghan described was with Kamal, not Tom.

          • Liz

            Yep as mentioned, in her last ever diary entry (the day before she went missing, the same day Rachel saw Megan kissing a dark skinned man), Meghan panicked and called Kamal over to spill about her baby and he kisses her. Not an affair kiss, but a goodbye, my sweet, messed up little girl, kiss. He tells her she will be ok and her baby will be ok and kisses her. 🙂

    • Resa Haile

      He filled in some of the blanks for Rachel about that Saturday night, including that Tom got into the car with a woman. This helped her to remember that it was Megan, not Anna.

  31. Dakota

    This was a really great book – I haven’t finished a book cover-to-cover in years, and couldn’t put this one down. I thought that Rachel had quite a few internal issues, but picked up on the fact that Tom had killed Megan once Scott had found out the baby wasn’t his. I had no suspicion of Anna, and didn’t suspect Tom until the end! Definitely a great read!

  32. Natalie

    It took me a while to get into the book but I was rooting for Rachel the whole way through… though secretly thinking perhaps she was the one who killed Megan by accident thinking it was Anna!
    As for Megan’s affair, I thought it was with Kamal too until near the end, didn’t he say in one of the therapy sessions when she bit his lip that she was just projecting? I think she liked him still but he was trying to remain professional. Rachel just saw them saying goodbye! I could be wrong though!

    • Chrissy

      I thought I was the only one who was SO worried it was Rachel! It seemed totally believeable because of the blackouts. Or was that what the author wanted me to think?

  33. Mia

    I did not see the ending coming either and went through suspecting them all including the women as the author intended (by telling us how small and slight Megan was and that a female could overtake her, for example). So that was well done as far as I’m concerned but I do think Megan would have been thinking about Tom while she’s having the affair with him, not just thinking of Kamal. I wanted to know more about what his issues were. I sympathized with Rachel and related to her, her low self worth came from how Tom treated and tricked her, blamed her for things he set up, and I really don’t like her being called an attention whore even though she was craving attention in many ways, calling her that seems so harsh even though I see many readers were fed up with her antics. Besides being a violent physical abuser, a psychological abuser and a pathological liar I also wonder what kind of other psychiatric disorder Tom might have had to be the way he was (with his parents too). I know someone just like that so I’d love to know anyone’s thoughts on this.

    • Alee

      The story we hear is relying on the character. With Rachel being a drunk and really out of control I started doubting her story. The same also with Megan, with her being emotionally unstable her thoughts and actions was not trusting. I like how we only heard Anna, Megan and Rachel’s story only but not the other three men Scott, Tom and Kamal. The author was smart. But a story like this can succeed in making it into a movie. The buzz around the story has all going back and forth of our books of the story. Some books can’t be movies and I feel this is one.

  34. Mia

    I should clarify, I think the author should have been showing Megan’s thoughts on Tom instead of just her thoughts on Kamal because she would have been thinking of both of them, not just Kamal. That’s my only quibble, it was a very great read!

    • Heather

      I thought the reason it focused on her thoughts about Kamal was because with him is where she revealed the roots of her discontent and misery–losing her brother and the exploits after including the kicker of the death of Libby. Tom was just another in a long line of her lovers–until he started to pull away.

  35. Heidi

    Really enjoyed the book. Read in 2 1/2 days. And enjoyed this blog too. So much more to the book than I realized! I did think that Rachel, Anna and Megan had such similar voices. I thought it was a fault in the writing style. But now thinking it was on purpuse. Love the twist regarding the affair being with Tom and not Kamal. I did not pick up on that. Also I was totally unclear as to whether they told the police Tom killed Megan. That again was extremely vague. It had to be on purpose. And I will read it again but I was very unclear as to how Tom was actually killed. How did she go frombeing dragged by her pants to being outside? With a corkscrew? (Anna said she saw it out the window). Great stuff! Thank so much for this blog.

  36. Shannon

    Great discussion! I think someone previously alluded to this but does anyone else think Tom drugged Rachel’s drinks at times during the marriage? And then he did the same with Anna later? I seem to remember Rachel describing a sensation of the inside of her mouth and tongue feeling “bitten” and then Anna later describing the same thing! Does anyone else remember this? It’s clear Rachel had a drinking problem but I wonder if Tom did exacerbate her blackouts at times (and then tried the same with Anna). Any feedback would be great as this detail has been nagging at me since I finished the book.

    • admin

      Oooh – interesting theory! I haven’t heard anyone else mention this and I didn’t really notice it when I read it (but, I read it in Jan, so the details are hazy by now)….but wouldn’t it be interesting?! I’m beginning to think there are way more layers to this book than what I picked up initially. A re-read might be in store if I can ever find the time!

    • XLM

      Ooh, that is interesting. I remember the “bitten” description in an Anna chapter, but thought that they might have had some rough sex, :p. But if Rachel also described it that way (it could still be rough sex), I could see the drugging theory work.

  37. heidi

    Did you notice that the first page (preface?) is Megan talking about her dead daughter and the next is the last thing that Megan says before dying? What is the literary purpose of this? Is there a meaning to it? It seems like the book is about Rachel, her alcoholism and how it impacts her. But then the having the beginning be about Megan puts a different twist on that….not sure if it means anything. Curious.

  38. Diane

    I’ve read this book a very long time ago and before I went to my book club I wanted a review. I bought the summary and analysis by book sense. Under Motifs it states ” But as the story moves forward, it is revealed that Rachel actually cheated on Tom first, proving their marriage had deeper issues long before his indiscretions.” Where does it state this? Can someone tell me please. I’ve looked and looked and I’m unable to find it. Thank you.

    • admin

      Wow – that’s interesting. I definitely don’t remember that from the book!

  39. Emily

    I’m so confused – I haven’t yet finished this book but I completely missed the part that said Megan was pregnant when she was murdered! I’ve flipped through the book a dozen times and I can’t find it! Can anyone help point me to it?? Maybe a date or something?

    • Veeda

      It was Rachels entry august 7 when scott comes to her place and tells her

  40. Val

    I’m wondering what the deal with Kamal was. .. no self-respecting psychiatrist would do what he did with Meagan: letting her inside his house, the physical stuff, crossing all kinds of boundaries. Did anyone else wonder about this? I thought it was so blatant!

    • Sherry

      As much as I wanted to really like this book I was left deeply unsatisfied. The first time I read it was on a lazy beach holiday-I thought perhaps my mental sluggishness was to blame. Perhaps I missed something profound? The second time was 2 months later as a book club pick. It didn’t improve on the second read.

      Really the redheaded man? So little character development. What was his importance to the story? I’m having more than a little difficulty accepting a mid-20ish man would invite a frumpy, overweight, older, obviously alcoholic, troubled woman to join him outside a pub for a drink, especially after she had already spurned his attempt to reconnect with her.

      As for Rachael I also have difficulty accepting she never saw any “cracks” in Tom’s personality when she was sober. Not one. Never? He never lost his temper when she was sober? Not once? I can accept that he could hide his true self from the rest of the world but given the gradual disintegration of their marriage over an extended period of time I can not accept his anger only surfaced with Racael when she was drinking.

      And I was OK with Anna until she was more concerned with Tom placing her and Rachael in the same category than she was with the knowledge that her husband was a sociopathic philanderer. So then I accepted that perhaps Anna and Tom were both sociopaths-perhaps that was part of the initial “likes” attracting. However Scott also has a mental illness of some description. He displays extreme obsessive control issues regarding Megan. So now I have 3 people who live a short distance from one another on the same street whose lives become intertwined all suffering from some type of mental issue. Too much. In addition I could not fathom the upside of Tom bringing Megan into his home as a babysitter. Especially when, in the final scenes, he makes it abundantly clear the only people who harbor any importance for him are Anna and their baby. A sociopath will work to control his environment such that the fiction of their true personality is kept a secret.

      Perhaps most damaging of all to my view of the credibility of the book was that I was left utterly unconvinced that Kamal, a professional therapist aware of Megan’s manipulative/mental issues, would:
      (a) allow Megan in his home, or
      (b) visit her at her home regardless of the urgency of the phone call. At the absolute minimum he would take a third party along. The carefulness of Kamal was clearly explained to us, or
      (c) in any way invite any kind of contact that could be misconstrued by Megan given her past behavior, her mental state, and his professional ethics.

      I’ve never tried it but I think twisting a corkscrew into someone’s neck would take a great deal of strength and quite an amount of time.

      In the end I just didn’t care. I didn’t care about any of the characters. Each of them was dishonorable. Yes I know I was reading fiction but it has to hang together much better than this novel did to make it worthy of the time (twice) invested.

  41. Sherry

    P.S. Couldn’t little Evie at least have been likeable? By the end I was even tired of her whining.

  42. Val

    I was thinking about the relevance of the red-haired guy (Andy) and at first I thought that maybe at the end, he’d be a potential love interest, or at least a friend, for Rachael. Then I came to the point where she sees him again and asks him what happened under the overpass or whatever it was and he said that there was a “bloke” who he assumed was her husband (she’d told him she was married, I think), and the bloke got into a car. . .then a woman GOT INTO THE CAR TOO. At first Rachael assumes that the woman was Anna until she realizes, where’s Evie? Anna wouldn’t make a move without Evie. It’s then that she realizes that it was Megan who got into the car. . . and that’s the beginning of the whole unraveling of Tom’s crime. So the purpose of the red-haired guy was to serve as a sort of “information vehicle” for Rachael – by telling her what she couldn’t remember. The story could not have moved forward without that breakthrough. I guess the author could have had Rachael remember all this on her own, but it seems unlikely that she would have done that, so she put in the red-haired guy to move the plot along. He was strictly a character meant to provide information; there was no need for him to have any depth or characterization. Anyhow, that’s my take on it!

  43. Drew

    They didn’t tell the police because Anna didn’t want to (it was ok for the world to know Tom was trying to kill Rachel but too embarrassing that he had an affair with and killed Megan?). Rachel would have been left with nothing to support her story had Anna not supported her. Anna would not support the murder confession but agreed to support the self defense facts, which would have been pretty obvious anyway based on tracks and wounds. The corkscrew as silly, as was the idea that she could win any kind of combat against Tom and the need for the made up stories about Tom’s death. Neither woman needed to do anything but tell the truth. DNA would have proved Tom the father or Megan’s baby. The officers wouldn’t look her in the eye because they’d been mean to Rachel and may have realized Tom was the killer. They had to have a clue in this. They had to have known about Megan babysitting and they obviously knew that Rachel was obsessed with cracking the case. No book is perfect, and I thought the book was great but really didn’t like the concocted stories at the end.

  44. Ha Ni

    For anyone who listened to the audiobook… Why was Kamal’s accent different from when he was talking to Megan to when he was talking to Rachel? It also seems out of character for him to release that information about the dead baby. I can see how telling them about the current baby could help deflect suspicion from him, but releasing the other one just seems needless.

    • shelly

      It was two different voice actors doing his voice when his accent changed. It was weird I agree. Also the wikipedia page incorrectly states that Meagan slept with Kunnal.

  45. romy

    Just finished the book. The thing someone said (I think it was a police agent) to Rachel, is that Anna and Megan looked a lot alike and she could have mistaken them for each other, that made me keep an eye on Tom the whole series. At first I thought it would be Rachel herself, especially after us learning that Megan killed her baby by accident, but then I always thought Tom was too nice to her, if she really was the stalker they described her as. There were also some things that he said to both Rachel and Anna, so we already knew he was a liar. And once a cheater, always a cheater.

  46. Nicole

    I liked this book. I thought the authro did a good job of pacing the plot development and character development in tandem, without revealing too much too soon. It was gripping without being overly complex. A few tie ins I really liked: the preamble about where “she” was buried, which you intially think relates to Megan but then is revealed to actually be Libby’s grave; the clever concealment of the affair with Tom (not Kamal); the red-headed man’s role in helping Rachel remember what really happened that night (even though he was only a marginally more reliable source of information than intoxicated Rachel herself). I also liked the way Rachel’s underlying issues (for example, with her mother) were kept on the periphery, which mirrored the glossing over of Tom’s issues. Some readers seemed to find this annoying, but for me it served to highlight the facets of the plot rather than adding in irrelevant distractions.

  47. Matthew S

    I’m terribly confused. I just finished the audiobook and in that version, the voice actor uses a completely different voice and accent for the Kamal met by Rachel and the Kamal met by Megan. I was completely expecting there to be a huge plot twist based on this. Any ideas what might be going on with the audiobook?

    • shelly

      I think that’s explained by the fact that two different actresses voiced Rachel and Megan. So up until the point when he meets Rachel, we’d only heard Megan’s voice actress do his accent. Rachel’s voice actress did it completely differently. It was definitely weird. Honestly while the book was enjoyable to listen to, I really could have waited for the copy at the library to come in (around the time the movie would have been released probably). Felt like kind of a waste of an audible credit.

  48. Marge

    I coordinate a Book Club Plus group and found this discussion site the best for inspiring thought and delving into the story. Our group meets tomorrow and I can’t wait to share during the ‘PLUS” part of our gathering….We’ll be discussing Girl on a Train ON A TRAIN!! We’retaking a 1/2 HOUR TRAIN RIDE TO A SEACOAST TOWN north of Boston, having lunch and riding back ON THE TRAIN to finish up any thoughts. Will let you know how it went….

  49. karen

    I just finished listening to this book and loved it. I thought it was a clever idea to base the story around a train, which works out to be an allegory of where the characters are traveling in their lives. Poor Rachel’s travels take her back in time, reliving the loss of Tom. I liked that the three women were presented in first person narrative, which gave a good insight into their personalities. Someone on this thread said that Kamal, the therapist, was the one who leaked the death of Megan’s baby Libby to the authorities, but Megan had a long list of lovers, so it could have been any one of those that she might have told. I actually liked Kamal (maybe it was that wonderfully calm, soothing accent?) and thought he was ethical, except I agree that it was a stretch for him to allow Megan into his home and then to visit her in hers. The red-haired man turned out to be fairly nice to Rachel and did spark her memory and helped reinforced her to believe what she thought she saw. And, to the DNA example that someone used in regard to Megan’s unborn child, if I remember correctly Scott received the news that the baby wasn’t his. Or, did I imagine that? I know I’m rambling on, but I can’t stop thinking about the is book. Hawkins is a brilliant writer and I can’t wait to read her next offering. So glad I found this site and all the wonderful comments.

  50. suzanne

    I had strong feelings about Tom as a suspect about half way into the story, but still vacillated between he and Anna. The author raised enough suspicion about everyone, including Rachael, to keep us guessing. Loved that Anna was building her case against Rachael, including reporting everything to the police. I was never completely sure that she wasn’t going to watch Rachael die and claim that she attacked her family and Tom killed her in self-defense. Showing Scott’s abusive side was necessary in order to keep the ending from being completely predictable. Messy, messy characters, thin plot, but enjoyable read overall.

  51. Karen

    Check out Joanne Harris’ (Chocolat author) review of “The Girl on the Train” at Goodreads. Interesting indeed.

  52. Ernest

    Something seems wrong at the end, “We are tied together, forever bout by the stories we told: that I had no choice but to stab him in the neck” did rachel really have a choice not to? considering tom can easily overpower her and she had already reached ‘dead end’ what else could rachel possibly do? So could it be that both Rachel and Anna are unreliable narrators? could something else have happened that what ever was said was a lie?

  53. Ann

    Can someone explain how Megan was a baby killer? I was driving while listening to the audio book and missed the part about her first child. It sounded like a stillbirth but I guess not? Thanks!

    • Karen

      Megan was in the bathtub with the baby resting on her chest. At some point, she fell asleep. When she awoke, the baby was in the water. It was an accident, but she did act irresponsibly. There is some detail about the baby prior to this and it appeared that Megan and her boyfriend did love the little girl.

  54. Michele

    I love this thread. I agree that Megan never truly had an affair with the therapist. I agree the red-haired man was an information conduit only to help fill in the holes in Rachel’s memory. I agree the author was vague and misleading on purpose to keep the ending a surprise. What I had trouble with was reconciling the way Tom seemed to deal with Rachel’s inability to move on, his endless patience and kindness towards her both before and after Megan’s murder( with a couple exceptions!) Why would he so readily kill Megan but remain so patient with Rachel’s behavior? And the whole murder confession thing with Anna and Rachel on the couch drinking tea? That seemed really strange to me. Wasn’t there two sets of clothes by the tracks? A smaller bundle near the beginning if the book and later a blue dress, right? I was disappointed that never amounted to anything. Rachel was exploring every detail to solve this crime but never explored the clothes? I never thought the red-haired man was Mac since Mac was much older than Megan and Andy was quite young. The clothes bothered me. I was also bothered by tom convincing Rachel she offended the hostess at the dinner party? What purpose did tom have in doing that? Why be so mean when she was drunk sometimes yet so kind and patient with her drunken antics after their divorce? And why hit her so brutally with his keys in the underpass before the murder? I didn’t understand the motivation for that. I really liked the beginning of the book but quickly became irritated with the obvious withholding of info and vagueness in Megan’s narratives and with people behaving in very much less than normal behavior in the last part of the book. I totally didn’t understand why Anna and Rachel had to make up stories about tom’s death. It WAS clearly self defense, not murder (except for Anna’s contribution). What motivation did Rachel have to cover up for Anna or Tom? It didn’t make sense to me. Also, I didn’t catch the fact that they didn’t tell the police that tom was the murderer. I just assumed the police would piece it together when the unborn baby’s DNA matched Tom’s or they found the phone while investigating Tom’s death. Wow. I’m rambling in disconnected thoughts! Sorry! I was so frustrated with the ending of this book I came here seeking vindication. Thank you so much for this thread!!

    • Heather

      I decided in the end that Tom wasn’t being nice and patient to Rachel. He was keeping her on the hook. He enjoyed the mind games he used to control her. And keeping her on the hook was a way of playing mind games with Anna because her appearances and actions totally rattled Anna and kept her unbalanced. PLUS the drunken communication from Rachel provided a cover when other lovers called at inappropriate times.
      I thought Tom lied about the rudeness to the hostess of the party to keep Rachel isolated from his work because it was someone she might see again either because he’d made a pass at Clara or was having an affair with her or because Clara might reveal lies or transgressions.
      He was so ready to kill Megan because he couldn’t control her the same way because she too was a player of mind games–just in a different way for different reasons.

  55. wish killer

    Hello together,
    Just finished reading the book today and really enjoyed it!
    Nonetheless there are some open questions for me:
    What’s up with the mobile Anna found in Tom’s bag? Is it Megans phone? Is it Rachels phone? What kind of purpose does the phone serve for Tom? I read the scenes over and over again, but still could not find an answer. All the author says is that it is HER voice.
    Please help me out!
    Really enjoyable thread!!

    • wish killer

      Another thing to add at this point: the book tells us that the police was able to find a phone of Megan next to her dead body..did she own two phones and how did he get his hands on her phone?!?! And why did the police find blood on Kamals car? So many mysteriös

      • admin

        Now these details I don’t remember! Can someone who read the book more recently chime in??

        • Rebecca

          Yes, Megan does have two phones. One she uses all the time (that’s found with her body) and her other phone she uses to converse with Tom (this one Tom ends up taking and stashing in his gym bag).
          The blood on the car – the scene where Megan leaves the therapists house after telling him about her deceased baby she said she gets knocked over by a runner or a cyclist and she leans against a car to steady herself. The last sentence in that paragraph states that her hand was bleeding from the fall. So I’m guessing the car was his and that’s how her blood got there.

    • wish killer

      Another thing to add at this point: the book tells us that the police was able to find a phone of Megan next to her dead body..did she own two phones and how did he get his hands on her phone?!?! And why did the police find blood on Kamals car? So many open question..

    • admin

      It’s been awhile since I read the book, but I feel like I remember that the mobile in Tom’s bag was a spare one he kept for communicating with Megan? So his wife wouldn’t find out about their affair?

      • Ruth

        It was definitely Megan’s phone. He must have taken it off the body so it was never found. But why he didn’t destroy it is a bit weird

        • Heather

          I believe the phone Tom had was Megan’s second phone she used tod communicating with her lovers. Remember how she cleared her web browser and did other things to keep her husband off the trail of her infidelities. She was described as “a very private person.” The other reading of that phrase is sneaky.

  56. gale greenleaf

    I’m surprised that no one mentioned the reaction Rachel had to Kamal when he stopped smiling – she instantly thought he was the embodiment of evil. I guess it was just another red herring, but her reaction was so strong that I expected it to surface at some other time, but it just drifted off into the sunset. Was anyone else annoyed at being jerked around like this so often?

    • Karen

      Yes, I think the author did that to make the reader believe Kamal was the killer. It worked because, at first, he was my main suspect. He turned out to be likable, but, in a professional capacity, he had no business seeing Megan outside his office, let alone giving her the goodbye hug/kiss. It seems that all the characters had problems and flaws.

  57. ash

    Did anyone else picture Ed Sheeran when Rachel described Andy? “Sandy blond hair, veering towards ginger”, “young”, “nice face, not good looking, just nice”, “open, a wide smile”, “his accent’s cockney, or Estuary, something like that”. It sounds just like him! I hope they cast him in the film adaption.

    • admin

      Not at the time, but now that you mention it…YES! Plus, I love his music 🙂

  58. Ruth

    I loved the desire for domestic bliss at the heart of this novel. That fantasy of the perfect family life pedaled by magazines and romance novels that girls dream about and long for. A life that looks picturesque and enviable to those around us. I liked it when Anna said she imagined passers-by envying her and Tom. I loved watching all the surface beauty get decimated and seeing some of the characters, Rachel especially, begin to grow up.

  59. ruth

    Could someone explain how the story of Megan as a baby killer was leaked to the press? When she told Kamal about the loss of her baby it was apparently the first time she’d ever told the secret. And Kamal seems a bit too trustworthy to leak such a confidence. Can’t understand it!

    • Karen

      I believe someone mentioned the possibility that she could have confided her secret to one of her many lovers and one of them notified the police. Kamal would have been the only other person who knew about the baby, but I agree with you that he didn’t seem the type to break patient confidentiality. I think the drowning was an accident that should have been reported to the police when it happened. However, there’s the issue of burying the baby, not to mention the fact that there was no birth certificate.

      • Chrissy

        I really don’t think she told any other lovers about the baby, because it was so hard for her to even talk about it to her therapist. Could it have been Tom?

  60. Georges

    Loved it. I struggled in the beggining to be honest with who most likely is Megan’s killer. At first Rachel then Scott but what made me absolutely sure that it was Tom was her somewhat faint recollection of the night with the Golf club and her words “I don’t remember anger , raging fury. I remember Fear” . The word fear made me 100% sure it was Tom.
    Although that didn’t make the read any less interesting.

  61. Rebecca

    Am I the only one that for a few seconds early on thought that maybe in her drunken stupor Rachel had decided to kill Megan- in order to frame Anna- in order to get Tom back? And I thought she would piece together her brilliant blackout scheme slowly and then morally have to decide whether to continue to go though with it. Which she does (in my mind haha).

    • admin

      I thought that for a bit too! I actually think that would have been a more interesting storyline…more reliant on psychology and less reliant on pure shock factor!

    • Chrissy

      I definitely was afraid it was her for most of the book but couldn’t think of a motive.

  62. Lyn Abercrombie

    Did anyone else think that the book might end with Rachel dead? I thought that might make an interesting ending. And the authorities would never know the truth. Someone earlier in these posts said they considered that Rachel could be a ghost — that would fit with Tom succeeding in killing her at the end! Would have been a real plot twist!! I thoroughly enjoyed the book! Couldn’t put it down; read it in 2 days.

    • admin

      I think that would have been a fascinating ending! Maybe better than the actual ending?!

  63. Nicki

    I enjoyed the book but felt the middle third dragged a little. I had the audiobook version and think this was better than the printed version as I’ve read several reviews that the reader couldn’t distinguish between the three women very well as they all seemed very similar. At least with the audio version, you could tell them apart. I also was getting increasingly tired and unsympathic towards Rachel and her alcoholism, especially when clashing with her landlady.

    I’m in the camp that definitely think Kamal didn’t have an affair with Megan. Right from the start, I just gathered the guy she saw in the car was the guy she was seeing at the hotel, and he wasn’t treating her very well. The author kept using ‘he’ and ‘him’ but when she spoke about Kamal, she said his name. I’m sure Megan said they had to meet in a hotel as he was with someone else, and then it was mentioned that Kamal lived alone, so I guessed she was seeing Tom. Added to the fact that she was their babysitter/nanny and this would give perfect opportunity for an affair.

    Another factor which made me think it was Tom was the similarity to a guy I used to be in a relationship with. Obviously not a killer! but just small things the author slipped in about Tom. The guy I was with was a liar, manipulative and cruel to several women he was involved with – I learnt later on. Saying the same lines to a woman, even going on the exact same holidays. Making up or exaggerating behaviour when his partner is drunk, and the contstant gaslighting – Tom being nice to Rachel when any normal man would probably have got a restraining order if she was hassling them that much. The guy I was with did this with his ex-wife constantly – but kept her in the foreground just to hassle her. Very much the behaviour of a sociopath/narcissist. What did chill me though was the thought that Tom may have drugged/spiked Rachel’s drink a few times for her to blackout and make her feel terrible about herself. I’ve always thought the guy I was with tried that trick a couple of times but I caught him out on it.

    Lastly, I was puzzled when Rachel went to the police to tell them about the dark skinned man kissing Megan. The female detective was constantly grilling Rachel about her relationship with Tom, and Anna to a lesser extent. They wanted her to spill about her whole history and relationship with Tom which I thought odd as it didn’t seem to have any factor on the disappearance of Megan. I was wondering if at that point, when they said they were following several leads, they already suspected that Tom and Megan were having an affair. And thus wanting to know all about him and how he acted with Rachel?

  64. Milo

    I also thought maybe it was the same person but realized that would just make this book more interesting.
    For those who wondered why Rachel went to get evie, she explains” I didn’t come to harm her”- it’s probably her being protective knowing subconciously she isn’t a violent drunk.

    What I couldn’t figure out- (besides the blue piles of clothing…”Anna worea blue dress w belt” okay?…)

    Is some of the affair scenes of Megan… Are they actually Tom and not just kamal?

    • admin

      From what I’ve been able to piece together, a lot of commenters think the affair scenes of Megan are actually with Tom, with the exception of when Rachel saw her kissing Kamal on the back porch from the train window..that it was more of a friendly goodbye kiss or something, but that it was with Kamal.

  65. Natalia

    The pile of clothes really bothered me. I was constantly waiting for an explanation. I saw that someone said it was really just a metaphor but Rachel mentioned it more than twice (i think) so it made me believe it was an important part of the book.

    Another thing that bothered me is the way that Anna acted towards the end when Tom was Telling them everything?? I was honestly waiting for her to start a tantrum, slap him in the face and run away with Evie. I tried to imagine that scenario in my head, and it didnt make sense to me at all. I also didnt understand the way tom acted as well? I get that hes insane but being like “yeah i cheated on you because you were starting to bore me” to calling her darling and holding her the next second? And she just acts like nothing happened. Then i thought maybe she was crazy like him too, so they really are the perfect couple after all. I started to think that she was fooling Rachel but she was really on Toms side. (When rachel goes outside to call the police and tom goes after her so quickly? Did anna tell him she was going to call the police??) How could she still love him after realizing what kind of person he is? in the midst of it all i didnt understand the way Anna and Tom acted. Why did she calmly go upstairs, not caring if Rachel died then goes downstairs and and jabs the corkscrew deeper in his neck?? Im so convinced shes just as insane as tom.Nonetheless i really enjoyed the book, i didnt really expect it to be tom

  66. s

    Hi, can someone answer a question for me? So the leaking of megans baby from 10 years earlier was by dr. kamal??

  67. JulieA.M.

    Shallow characters with no back story. (Was this book GONE GIRL in another life?) So- I googled your blog in order to END a book I have to talk about at book club tonight. I NEVER EVER quit a book, but for the life of me, I didn’t care enough about any of these characters to finish it. I had more important things to do- like laundry. BUT keep reviewing books, you have a great site and when a good book comes along I’m all in!

    • Sheree

      I’m afraid I eventually felt the same way. I got two thirds through the book, and didn’t want to read anymore. I’m glad I read this blog to find out the ending. Love this site.

  68. Kat

    Everybody with an imagination has watched people and made up stories, but kudos to Hawkins for actually writing a novel! However, I give the book a C+. Why are there so many books with ‘Girl’ (Gone Girl, Luckiest Girl Alive, etc) in their title? Is this a way of absolving the character from her foolish mistakes and self centeredness when truthfully, she is an adult who should have more sense by this point in her life? I think the only ‘Girl’ is Megan as a teenager. Alcoholism is a disease, far more serious than a character flaw. The unreliable narrator seems to be a new genre, or at least enjoying a rediscovery, but it also can give way to weak plot development and resolution. This is a great site! I will certainly pass it on to fellow readers.

    • admin

      Great observation about so many books with “Girl” in the title…the folks on the Book Riot podcast actually had a fairly in depth discussion about this awhile back. I also feel like “Wife” is in a ton of titles (The Wife, The Reliable Wife, The Pocket Wife, The Silent Wife, etc). And I also feel like there has been a fair amount of unreliable narrators around recently! But, one of my pet peeves is when I find out a book has an unreliable narrator before I read it – it’s kind of a spoiler! Thanks for sharing my blog!

  69. Jen

    Re: the audio book version — my American take on the accents was; Megan — surprisingly posh. Rachel — well educated, middle to upper middle class, Anna — ditto. Cathy (flatmate) — quite a few rungs down the class ladder, and Tom the same but a little less so. Kamal’s accent done by the actress who played Megan — brilliant and perfect. Anyone else?

  70. Dana

    Hey, I just want to know the significance of the train in the book. The book opens with Rachel on the train and it ends with her talking about getting back on the train, and throughout the book there are all kjinds of references to the train, it’s movement, sound coming from all the characters–not just Rachel. So, is the train a metaphor for something? Or perhaps is the train a symbol of “the journey” that they all take in finding out who they really are and with each “stop at that light,” it brings them to new revelations about themselves? What do you guys think?

    • Fiona Summers

      I also thought that the train theme really means something. I concluded that it`s her therapy. Monotonously going along, and almost always stopping right outside her old home. The idea that these fairly affluent couples live at the side of the train tracks, and that the weather in London is so gorgeous that people sit outside regularly for breakfast before work, never made any sense. I think it`s the therapist`s method of bringing her to confront a crisis. Looking forward to the movie!

  71. EtsukoGainey

    Hi admin, do you need some fresh articles on your blog?
    Daily updates will rank your website higher
    in google, if you are too lazy to write everyday, search in google for:
    Turus’s Essential Tool

  72. Maureen Phaneuf

    As a recovering Alcoholic, I found Ms. Hawkins’ depiction of Rachel’d drinking logic and mindset spot on! Aware of her problem, her chaos and actions during job loss, her reasoning for drinking and not drinking walked right into the mind of a woman who is trapped by her alcoholism. Her characters were very well developed even in some with brief appearances. I enjoyed this book immensely, a nice respite from my usual Historical Fiction affliction! Do wonder how they will disguise Tom in a movie version…

    • admin

      That’s interesting to know that Rachel’s portrayal was spot-on for how the mind of an alcoholic works. Rachel’s mental state was the most fascinating part of the book for me…especially how she assumed she was always at fault for things that happened while she was blacked out. It was certainly eye-opening to see how Tom used her blank spots of memory to manipulate her. How differently would she have perceived herself overall if he hadn’t repeatedly done that during and after their marriage. Thanks for stopping by!

  73. Glenda

    Rachel wow!at times my stomach sank for her, she just really set herself up to be the fall woman for Tom antics.
    I felt you learned a lot more about Tom through Rachel and how he treated her. I think he encouraged Rachel “stalking” and used Anna’s hatred of her to make his lies believable. I also feel how Rachel stalking fed Tom’s narcissist ego. However one character that really drove me demented was Anna – being inside her POV was hell.

    Post novel, i can’t believe Anna escaped – so i had to imagine an alternative ending to console myself. Rachel goes to the detectives and tells them about Tom’s affair. They find out he’s the father of the baby and with further detective work find all the other pieces. Toms arrested, charged with murder. Tom and Anna’s story appears all over the papers (man! can you imagine Anna reaction – if she freaked over an article on “Megans past”). Of course she’d stand by her man, her and Tom are made for each other. The question is would she still feel lucky?

  74. laura

    I really enjoy the book and now that I’ve found out that Megan never actually had the affair with Kamal makes it even more interesting. There are still some things that I don’t quite get though, I was hoping to find some answers here. Why did Anna and Rachel had to lie to the police,is not as though Rachel would have had a choice other than stab Tom with the corkscrew right? I mean he was going for her and what Rachel did was after all self defense wasn’t it?. Also what does Anna’s warning to Rachel at the end actually mean?. I feel like I’m missing something

  75. Ashley

    I really enjoyed this book along with reading everyone’s thoughts. I didn’t try to guess the killer too much, I just let the pages unfold. One of the parts I found confusing is the part when Megan sees Abdic for the last time. She confides in him regarding her pregnancy, why doesn’t he worry and think the baby might be his?? Or are we to assume he took precautionary measures during there time together?

    • admin

      I wish I’d taken that approach! I was annoyed to have guessed the ending. I think the answer to your question might lie in some earlier comments to this post. There is a theory that Megan and Kamal never actually had an affair. That those scenes were written to make you think it was Kamal Megan was sleeping with, but it was actually Tom. Which would answer your question about why Kamal doesn’t ask if the baby is his.

      I never picked up on this while I was reading, but a number of people mentioned in it in the comments section of this post.

  76. Karen

    Did you guys know that “The Girl on the Train” won the 2015 Goodreads Choice Award for best mystery and thriller?

  77. Linda

    I am so happy I am not th only ones with questions. After reading thru all of this, I want to go read the book again!
    The thing that keyed me into Megan not having an affair with her therapist was when Tom said to her about her thinking they were running off somewhere together, It pointed back to a conversation she had with her lover, who at the time, I thought was the therapist.

    Also, when Megan was confessing to the therapist how she killed her baby, it said something about a guy with headphones or something riding a bike (I may be a little fuzzy on the details). But I thought it would later come out that someone was spying on them, but that never happened.

  78. Mary D.

    I’m a psychotherapist and just finished the book last night. Although I enjoyed the book, there was a major bait and switch job Hawkins pulled on all of us. Rachel was the most appropriately presented dysfunctional character (“dual diagnosis” patient(substance abuse and mental health issues)). I actually thought she was the one who killed Megan until all the sudden Scott-no-maybe-Tom drama started popping up out of nowhere. I knew the therapist didn’t do it(we do NOT have sex with clients and we certainly don’t murder them 😉 )… There was a moment when I thought it might have been Anna (killing Megan by accident with Tom cleaning up her mess). But hey…what do I know? I have yet to write my own debut psychological thriller! 😀

  79. Bec

    I loved the book, but couldn’t work out one thing… What was the significance of the second pile of clothes (the blue dress and black belt)? Wasn’t that was Megan was wearing the night she was killed? But if so, how did it get in the tracks?

  80. Tiff

    I loved the book, finished it in three days and I’m usually a slow reader!
    My questions: Did Anna tell Tom that Rachel was going to call the police?
    When did Megan and Tom start having the affair? I think it was before those text messages on Megan’s second phone back in September 2012. On Page 17 May 16,2012 Megan’s POV she said “I can hear his footfall on the stairs, he calls my name.” is that Tom? OMG I don’t know! someone help!

    • admin

      I’m hoping another reader can answer your question b/c I read this so long ago that I don’t remember!

    • Cate

      Oooooo good catch, it might be Toms footfall on the stair, he calls to her “you want another coffee Megs” and in Megans final chapter the dialogue again has Tom calling her “Megs” when he says she’s not motherhood material. I don’t think Scott called her “Megs”, could be wrong though. I’m also not sure if Anna told Tom about Rachel calling the police, I feel like she did though as it seems she didn’t want the police to know about Tom murdering Megan

  81. David

    Just finished listening to the Audiobook, as I never have the time to sit down a ready anymore……. Thought the book was well written, with a good plot. However, I have a question about Kamal Abdic. This is something that only listeners to the Audio Book will pick up. When Megan is talking about Kamal, he has a softly spoken foreign, eastern European accent… When Rachel decided to play detective and book an appointment to see Kamal, he has a well spoken English Accent. Brilliant!I thought….the two ‘Therapsists’ are different people! which one is actaully Kamal? I thought!…thought this was a brilliant twist, but immediately realised that a ‘reader’ wouldn’t pick this up, as there are no other clues. So from then on I was waiting for more clues to come out about the fact that one of the woman was seeing someone pretending to be Kamal….. however, to my disappointent any further hidden clues didn’t come up.

    So, If I was reading this book – I would have never known, so I guess I have to accept that they were the same person.

    But….Why did Kamal have two different narrators doing two different voices for the same Character?????

    • Ali Van

      This is a very late reply but yes!!
      I thought this too. I thought perhaps Rachel was lying about having met Kamal.
      But I think it must have been poor planning on behalf of those recording the audiobook. Perhaps the actresses recorded them at separate times and weren’t told what accents the others had done.

  82. Magda

    What a great discussion. I’ve just finished the book; it kept me till 2 am, and I did like it. But I could not help but feel that the writing towards the end has become a bit lazy. There are two things that really bother me: 1. Tom- after murdering (though unintentionally) Megan, would keep her mobile phone?? In his house? With all the police,all the fuss happening around the house. And he would leave the SIM card in, and the phone had no PIN code, so Anna could easily read the messages? 2. When Rachel realizes it was Tom that was a suspect,why not just go to the police? I know, at that point she was not a reliable witness, but here is when the mysterious man with ginger hair comes in- he not only served as her memory, he SAW Tom getting into the car with Megan- it had to be Megan as we know Anna was at home with Evie. Rachel knew how Anna felt about her, why Rachel would expect that Anna will listen/trust her? And how could she have known that Tom was not at home. At that point, she knew who she was dealing with- she knew Tom was possibly a murderer, a dangerous and manipulative man who almost drove her insane. It just does not add up.

  83. Martha

    OMG it never even crossed my mind that Megan’s lover was NOT Kamal. Holy Moly, so glad I got on this site. I enjoyed the book but like it even more now.

    The theory of a split personality situation reminded me of The Double Bind. Would have been a great ending! That never crossed my mind either.

    Thank you thank you! Great discussion.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I LOVED The Double Bind…it was the first Bohjalian I ever read…and definitely not the last.

  84. Joel

    Just read through this whole discussion!
    I think there was never any sexual relationship with the therapist, he was not at all worried about the baby being his, he is mentioned by name in chapters with Megan while Tom is not, Megan only told Scott she had one lover, and the police never found any evidence of a sexual affair.
    I think we can assume that the therapist did tell the police about the dead baby, as Megan explicitly states she has never told anyone else about it, and it would explain why the police investigation of him was quickly dropped. I imagine someone in the police leaked it to the press in the name of a quick buck however.
    No idea about the clothes by the tracks, either Tom was a serial killer, or they just blew off someones clothes line.

  85. Adele

    Bit late to the party but I’ve just read it and despite it being a page Turner and reading it in one sitting, I hate it.

    The characterisation is very poor. I agree with posters who say Rachel/Megan and even Rachel/Megan/Anna might as well be one character; frankly Cathy was the only individual character. Scott/Tom are basically 1 character too. Handsome controlling husband.

    It’s basically a complete waste of time. It’s a shallow, entirely plots driven, draw you in book with no substance.

  86. Danielle

    Unfortunately,I am very good at guessing twists in novels, so this ending came WAY to easy to me. I wish it had been written a little differently- maybe less clues as to Tom’s real anger/personality

    • Sarah Dickinson

      Totally agree – I easily guessed this ending, and I’m not one that usually guesses endings 🙂

  87. nicole

    I thought about Tom drugging her as well, as soon as we saw what he really was.
    I’m curious how they’re going to pull off a few things for the movie. Emily Blunt doesn’t look heavy and that’s something Anna says over and over,that Rachel is fat. Then the affair with Tom when we didn’t find out until near the end that it was him at The Swan. Will we just see a silhouette?
    I do like the open ending,leaving a few things for you to add in/on for yourself. Where did Scott go? How about Anna? Did the police ever find out Tom was the killer? Did Rachel keep it together?

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I’m so curious how they’ll portray Megan’s affair…and who it’s actually with. That’s been an interesting theory mentioned in the comments that I never considered while reading it.

  88. Susan

    I saw the film yesterday and thought it was a very good adaptation — very moody and atmospheric.

    I was wondering how the director would pull off Rachel’s idea of what happened vs. what really happened and it was done very skillfully.

    Also, although Emily Blunt isn’t at all “fat”, she did look kind of bleary in many scenes, so you could believe her character had a drinking problem.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      The trailer did look atmospheric! Glad you enjoyed the movie and I’m also glad to hear the movie left the Rachel affair question open ended.

  89. Lovette

    I just finished reading the novel, and can’t wait to see how they adapted it to film. I love mystery novels and I do have to say I figured out who killed Megan early on. However, many things did cross my mind while I kept reading.

    1. Is it possible that Rachel is actually insane and all the women are actually different personalities? This seemed very plausible considering all their similarities with men and fertility/motherhood, similar injuries.
    2. The murderer could easily be anyone. I went back and forth questioning myself…hmm it could be the therapist, Megan’s husband did seem to be controlling. Tom was just too nice, Rachel is unstable…
    3. This is what gets me the most. And there’s a huge part of me that wishes and hopes this was Hawkins purpose. Anna was the killer, she obviously was so crazed, obsessed even of Rachel, and maybe just maybe put that aggression on Megan. Megan did come to their home and Anna just snapped, and she killed Megan. Tom covering himself of the affair and Anna. Anna didn’t go out her way to save Rachel. She could have phoned the police while upstairs. And waited for the “right time” to call. If Tom were to kill Rachel, she could get rid of Tom and Rachel at once. What leans me to this conclusion is the very end, when she takes the corkscrew and makes sure she jams it and twists it, insuring his death, while whispering something to him. What did she whisper!?!?!?

    Also, I wish we knew more backstory to Tom. I wanted to Scott to be a really good guy, not show so much aggression or assault Megan or Rachel. There was a part of me that felt so sad for Megan. But it is Anna who has really left an impression on me. I would love to know more about Anna.

    • Sarah Dickinson

      1) Check out some of the earlier comments on this post…you’re not alone in thinking that!

      I wanted more about Tom too…did he have previous sociopathic tendencies (which would explain his surface level niceness, but viciousness behind the scenes)?

  90. Tasya

    I don’t get it, Rachel is supposed to be barren. But at the last few paragraphs before she killed Tom, it says “I stand on the spot where, a year or more ago, I stood with his child in my arms” where is her child then??? So she is not barren then. What happen to her child? Oh dear…I am so puzzled by this. Someone please help me answer this mystery

    • Sarah Dickinson

      I think she’s referring to Tom and Anna’s baby…the one Rachel randomly “took” at some point. But, it’s been a year and a half since I read this book, so my memory is a little hazy!

  91. Cate

    LOVE this thread! Reading everyone’s thoughts is awesome and so much has been pointed out and cleared up. I know I’m a bit late to the game but I just finished his book and my mind is racing!
    I am still confused about a few things…
    1. Rachel pulls Anna *outside* to ask her to distract Tom for a bit while she calls the police. Meanwhile, Tom was holding Evie, Anna was freaking out about it, couldn’t Rachel have easily snuck outside alone and gotten further away to call the police instead of wasting that time pulling Anna aside to set up this little plan (that Anna may have even spoiled by possibly telling Tom)?
    2. I am further confused by why Rachel tries so hard to “save” this B*TCH Anna?! Anna gleefully slept with a married Tom and proudly rubs it in deeply depressed Rachel’s face “he is a good liar, you were clueless all those months when we were f***ing each other’s brains out” she’s SO rude!
    3. In the end, I don’t understand why Tom suddenly decides to fully fess up to the murder to Anna and Rachel when he could have just confessed to the affair?
    4. Toms conflicting treatment of Anna: At one point Tom turns on both Anna and Rachel saying something about them both being exhausting and incredibly weak and that he had truly LOVED them both, past tense. He then refuses to let Anna leave the room and has her change Evies dirty diaper in the kitchen, but then later let’s her go upstairs where she has access to a phone.
    5. In the end Megan is buried with Libby, but her tombstone doesn’t say daughter, sister, mother, or wife or anything … The poor troubled girl was murdered while pregnant and then buried with the barest gravestone, seems a little harsh
    6. Just want to reiterate how irksome Anna’s character is. I like some of the theories written above about her killing or somehow being a part of Megans death. She is
    AWFUL! I don’t get her and Toms dynamics, how she doesn’t call him out immediately about Megans cellphone, again how he has her change the diaper in the kitchen but then let’s her go. And she thinks about him killing Rachel “he hadn’t finished it. I’m not really sure what he’s waiting for”, but then yet again later drives the corkscrew a little further into his neck?! AGH she seems to take death and murder pretty casually?!
    7. As stated multiple times already don’t understand why Anna and Rachel lied to the police / didn’t tell the full truth if Megan’s fetus’ DNA is Toms?
    8. Not so much confused but I was alarmed by the violence of Scott & Tom!!! Punching Rachel’s head with a keys serated edge and whipping a beer bottle at the back of her head!?! Scott throwing a framed photo as *hard as he could* at Megans head and repeatedly chokes her?!
    9. One last little thing that stuck out to me was how cruelly Rachel was treated in particular by Anna, being called fat and sad etc constantly disrespected. The comment from Scott about downgrading from Megan to Rachel. Tom calling her an unwanted dog that gets repeatedly kicked.. Before kissing her?! Some of it just seems mean.. poor Rachel, excited to see how über babe Emily Blunt pulls off this character !

    In regards to who did it, I was scared it was Rachel for a bit and really hoped she didn’t do it! I thought that rude woman cop Riley was trying to implicate her during their first meeting.
    I had a pretty strong feeling it was Tom when Anna said something about going to the police and Tom immediately declined bringing the cops into the situation… Sketchy sketchy Tom.

    It was a good read! It’s got my brain all in a mess, clearly!! Any responses or thoughts MUCH appreciated, it’s like a support group post read 🙂

  92. J

    Why didn’t Anna and Rachel tell the Police about their discovery of Tom and Megan’s affair, leading to his confesion of murder, which in turn enraged him to try and kill Rachel? I loved this book, but was left with an empty feeling at the end because there was no justice for Megan’s murder. Tom was never convicted, let alone suspected. I am left feeling as if Scott may still go down for his wife’s murder. I don’t understand why there was no closure to the prosecution of Tom. Anna and Rachael could have told the Police everything and self defense would have still been the case, as Tom wanted to quieten Rachel before she told anyone.
    Can anyone help elaborate on this so that I may have my closure?

    • Jenny

      Because all three women are Rachel. She wonders why Tom left her when she thought she was a great wife and lover, but coming by to grips that she is a flawed drunk fractures her mind into the three. In the end, accepting only a little blame of each woman it’s easier to put it all on Tom in this elaborate tale vs the truth. The only good thing of her psychosis is that she can move on with her life having that closure.

  93. Jennifer

    It was all on Rachel’s head as a way to cope with losing her husband due to being a cold, drunken bore of a wife. The end is a way her brain made her accept it and want to get better.

  1. Saturdays are for brunch, Sundays are for long talks and cuddling | Live Young.

    […] I just finished this month’s book club book (The Girl on the Train) and no one else has even started it, but I’m dying to talk about it! I can’t go to this month’s meeting anyway, so I looked online for some discussions ASAP. This was the most interesting discussion I found online: spoiler alert! […]

Leave a Reply

CommentLuv badge