The Girl on The Train, About The Author: Paula Hawkins
Born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe, Ms. Hawkins grew up surrounded by foreign journalists who tracked in and out of her house to visit her father, an economics professor and financial journalist. She moved to London with her family when she was 17. When her parents returned to Zimbabwe a few years later, she stayed in England to attend Oxford, studying economics, politics and philosophy, and eventually became a business reporter for The Times of London.
Coming from a place of almost no consequence in the writing world, she told the NewYork Times that, “I wasn’t pegged to be an instant international sensation. American crime fiction travels easily abroad; the converse is less often true, unless the author happens to be a J. K. Rowling or a Lee Child.” So the immense success that the book has received to this day still overwhelms her.
Two years ago, with her finances taking a dip, she decided to try writing the kind of story she’d like to read. She re-jigged an old idea for a character who struggles with alcoholism and frequently blacks out, which becomes more than a personal issue when this heroine realizes that she may have witnessed a serious crime and can’t recall the specifics.
The idea for the story came to her a few years and some change ago while she was on her morning commute. She often found herself staring into the yards and windows of homes she passed and often wondered what she’d do if she witnessed some kind of unspeakable horror. So driven by a wild imagination, some boredom, and near financial ruin, the story for The Girl On The Train was born.
Ms. Hawkins wrote the first half in an intense four months, and her agent sent it out to publishers to see if anyone would sink their teeth into it.
“The Girl on the Train” unfolds in a bland London suburb where the protagonist, Rachel, finds her life dissolving into a series of gin-fueled benders after she has tried and failed to get pregnant, and her husband leaves her for another woman. Rachel becomes obsessed with a seemingly happy couple she spies on through the window on the train to London each day. When the woman, Megan, disappears, Rachel becomes convinced that she witnessed something that’s crucial to solving the mystery. But she can’t trust her own memory, much less earn the trust of the police or the woman’s distraught husband.
The themes of domestic violence and alcohol and drug abuse, and the slippery question of whether people can ever truly know their spouses or themselves, make the story more complex than the average thriller.
Additional Source: The NewYorker