This week’s pick: The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins

Food, music and conversation to pair with this buzzy, bestselling thriller.

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Girl on the Train Canadian book cover

Selection

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, (Doubleday Canada, $25).

In brief

This unexpected smash hit — now in its eighth week at number one on the New York Times bestseller list — rides the recent wave of Gone Girl–style thrillers. Recently divorced Rachel commutes from the English suburbs to London, and jealously watches the same “perfect” couple from her train window every day. (The couple’s house backs onto the tracks.) When the wife goes missing, Rachel injects herself into the investigation and, as a result, into the grieving husband’s life. Told from the perspective of three female narrators, Girl is a suspenseful whodunnit. Dreamworks optioned the book before it was even released, with Marc Platt (Into the Woods, Drive) set to produce and Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary) attached to write the screenplay. Burning question: Will Hollywood stick with the novel’s U.K. setting or Americanize it?

Themes

Commuter culture, alcoholism, infidelity, murder.

What to serve

Travel snacks and hangover cures: Ham and Cheese sandwiches, peanut potato chips and lots of strong black coffee.

ham-and-cheese-focaccia-with-apricot-mostarda-0-l

Playlist

50 Ways to Leave Your Lover – Paul Simon
All Down the Line – Rolling Stones
Angel Eyes – ABBA
Cry Me A River – Justin Timberlake
Everybody Hurts – REM
Morning Train – Sheena Easton
Train in Vain – The Clash

Opening questions

1. Have you ever imagined what the lives of strangers are like? How far would you go to learn more about them?
2. How did Hawkins’ use of three unreliable narrators add to the book’s mystery? Which narrator was the best guide?
3. Aside from being a thriller, the book is a meditation on extreme alcoholism. Did that aspect ring true?

Bonus trivia

Before penning Girl, her first thriller, Paula Hawkins was a journalist who had written finance books and romance novels — the latter under the pen name Amy Silver. Hawkins actually sent Girl‘s manuscript to a publisher before it was finished because she was in desperate need of money. Fortuitously, the book started a bidding war. The U.S. publishing house Riverhead originally planned for a print run of 40,000, but there are now 500,000 copies in circulation.