Study Guide

The Girl on the Train Chapter 1

By Paula Hawkins

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Chapter 1


  • It's the morning of Friday, July 5, 2013. And no, it's not the day after Independence Day, because this book is set in England.
  • Anyway, Rachel is a girl. Well, she's an adult girl (a.k.a. a woman), and she's on a train.
  • You guessed it: She's the girl on the train.
  • Mystery solved, the end.
  • Oh wait, no, we still have a lot of pages to go. Well, onward.
  • Rachel looks out the window of a train.
  • Now it's the evening of the same day, and Rachel is riding back home on the train, drinking gin and tonic from a can, which we didn't even know was a thing, and looking out the window again.
  • She remembers her first holiday with Tom in a way that we assume means she's not with Tom anymore.
  • Rachel recalls fishing villages, beaches, making love in the sand.
  • On Monday, Rachel's back on the train.
  • Many days the train stops outside her favorite house, number fifteen.
  • Rachel imagines the couple she often sees hanging outside the house on their lovely terrace as Jason and Jess, "a perfect, golden couple" (1.14). They're what Tom and Rachel maybe used to be, but definitely aren't now.
  • In the evening, Rachel tries to see Jason and Jess from the other side of the track.
  • She doesn't, but she has her imagination to fall back on.
  • On Tuesday, Rachel tells us that she used to live at twenty-three Blenheim Road, a few houses down from number fifteen.
  • Now Tom lives there with Anna, and they've had a baby together.
  • In the evening, Rachel is riding back home on the train.
  • Home is now a room she rents from a friend, Cathy. Cathy is nice, but Rachel feels out of place there.
  • On hump day, Rachel is disappointed that she catches neither hide nor hair of Jess nor Jason, so she imagines their perfect (to her) life yet again.
  • That evening it's hot and sweaty, and Rachel feels gross. She's put on weight and she's puffy from all her drinking.
  • A man at a computer looks at her and she thinks that he thinks that's she's gross, too.
  • On Thursday, Rachel sees "Jess" looking sad, and she thinks about a bunch of stuff that makes her sad too: being a drunk, losing Tom, drinking, drinking, drinking, (and drinking).
  • That night, Tom calls and tells Rachel to stop bugging him: "These constant calls are really upsetting Anna" (1.47). But she didn't even tell us she'd been calling him. Does she not remember?

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