Paula Hawkins is an author best known for her best-selling psychological thriller novel The Girl on the Train, but she started as romantic fiction writer because that was more marketable. The truth, however, was that she had a darker side that she was not able to show. According to The Guardian and an interview that Paula Hawkins made, she said “the lighter stuff she was writing before never came naturally, and part of her was always pulling in a deeper and darker direction. But she had no inkling that “drunk girl”, as she dubbed Rachel, would take off in the way she has.” She studied philosophy, politics and economics at Oxford University. It's in 2009 that Paula Hawkins began her career as a novelist writing romantic fiction under the pseudonym of Amy Silver. She met commercial success by abandoning the comic tone of her first news for a darker and more serious style.
The Girl on The Train deals with themes of domestic violence, alcohol, and drug abuse. The story is told from the point of view of the three female characters: Rachel, Anna and Megan.
Rachel Watson is a 32-year-old woman who has been in depression and alcohol since her divorce from Tom. Her ex-husband has since returned to household with his mistress, Anna, and their daughter, in the former home of the couple. In order to occupy her days and deceive her roommate about the loss of her job, Rachel makes the round trip to London daily, passing near her old address. She sees from her window every morning a couple next to Tom and Anna, whom she nicknamed Jason and Jess and whom she imagines as a happy couple. One night, she sees 'Jess' with another man, and learns a few days later the disappearance of this woman, whose real name is Megan Hipwell. Convinced that she saw something about Megan's disappearance during a drunken night, Rachel will be getting closer to Scott a.k.a 'Jason', thus meeting Tom and Anna again. Paula Hawkins in her book uses a lot of dialogue and simple language which is very useful for the people who start to learn English and want to read books. She uses a screenplay style: “Jesus Christ, Rachel, what the hell is wrong with you?” (The Girl on The Train 41). The book is written like a movie script and like if she was writing a movie all along. Maybe she knows that her book will be adapted in a movie or maybe she is not a very good writer but she uses great character and theme that is very important today and of which a lot of people have an opinion.
The theme of The Girl on The Train is the struggle of a women to find the path of lucidity. Men has been manipulating women for years, mostly physically, sometimes also mentally. Men often diverts the facts and makes up the reality for women. That's how in the story, Tom, the narcissistic ex-husband cunningly abused Rachel, going so far as to make her believe that it was all her fault, whereas he is the one who caused her to start drink. Rachel found herself trapped in her daily routine, looking behind her. She does not feel alive anymore. The train is a cell in which Rachel has condemned herself to live.
Rachel's luck is to see Megan, who will become a kind of 'savior' for her. Megan represents a lost youth that Rachel would like to find again. Megan is a woman who can decide who she wants to be, when she wants to be it, and she is a woman with a lot of character who is not afraid to talk to men like Tom. However, not all truths are good or bad and Megan will pay the price. When Megan disappears, Rachel feels that she is also close to dying, but the confusion will dissipate, with the support of other women. Rachel will find the courage to face the one who destroyed her mentally. According to Sarah Marshall, “In the final moments of The Girl on the Train, we learn that all the trauma the movie’s women have experienced can be traced back to just one man, and his inevitable destruction means they are finally set free.”, this means that women who are pressured by men often feel 'free' once the problem is resolved but still keep track of what they experienced. It was also the same feeling for Susan Fowler when she started working in the Uber company and was sexually harassed by her manager. She says in her letter Reflecting On One Very, Very Strange Year At Uber, 'And when I think about the things I have recounted in the paragraph above, I feel a lot of sadness, but I can't help but laugh at how ridiculous everything was”.
Tom's death is symbolic. He is the man with two women, Rachel his ex-wife, the recalcitrant and tenacious victim, and Anna the consenting victim. Rachel kills Tom with the help of a corkscrew, which undoubtedly refers to the fact that she is charging the price of her alcoholism to her ex-husband. This is a symbolism of her revenge against Tom because he is the one who caused her to start drinking. In addition, Paula Hawkins uses for the outcome of the story a weapon of crime rather in the sense of humor because non-ordinary but reminding for the main character the hardships she experienced and that thanks to them it will be finally free.
Paula doesn’t just tell a story about the disappearance of Megan, she also invites the reader to come to this story and try to imagine what can happened next. It was very difficult to stop reading because you always want to know the end and who is the guilty, and when you know and understand what is going on, you feel like it was an evidence. The last sentences of the book: “I get into bed and turn the lights out. I won’t be able to sleep, but I have to try. Eventually, I suppose, the nightmares will stop and I will stop replaying it over and over in my head, but right now I know that there is a long night ahead. And I have to get up early tomorrow morning to catch the train.” (The Girl on The Train 323). This ending show that there will always be sequels of what Rachel has lived but that it is not necessarily that we must stop living.
The Girl on the train is not great literature and it may not remain on reader’s shelves like an Agatha Christie classic. However, the themes reflect what is happening in many women’s lives today as they wake up, open their eyes, and fight against male power and manipulation like the movement “Me too”.