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How ‘The Girl on the Train’ film might ruin it for fans (and one change they might love)

By Cath Clarke

If you travelled on the tube at all last year, you will have seen someone with their nose stuck in ‘The Girl on the Train’, Paula Hawkins’s crack-strength addictive psychological thriller. The book has sold more than 11 million copies and has some seriously loyal fans – not all of them will be best pleased with a few little changes in the film.

Everyone is ridiculously gorgeous

In August, when ‘The Girl on the Train’ trailer dropped, the book’s author Paula Hawkins tweeted what everyone was thinking.

Actually, it turns out Paula Hawkins is a fan of Emily Blunt's performance as black-out prone alcoholic Rachel, who sees something disturbing on her morning commute. Talking to Time Out this week, Hawkins said of Blunt: ‘She’s amazing. She manages to convey Rachel's damage in the way she holds herself. So yes, she's still a beautiful woman with great bone structure. But you can see this is a damaged person. And of course they're all going to be beautiful. It's Hollywood.’ To compensate for Emily Blunt being gorgeous, the make-up artists give her really dry chapped lips.


Bye bye London, hello New York

For super-loyal fans, the unforgivable crime against the book committed by the film is transferring the action from London to New York.

In the book, 33-year-old Rachel travels south into Euston by train every day from the suburbs. Faulty signalling means that the 8.04 grinds to a stop behind the row of Victorian semis where she used to live with her ex. He still lives there with his smug new wife and baby.

Paula Hawkins got the idea for the book during her commute: ‘I used to do a District line commute from Putney Bridge, and they were always doing work on the line. It was a nightmare. The train used to stop all the time, and the buildings are right up next to the tracks. I used to look into people's houses and hope something interesting would happen. It never did.’

Clearly in New York suburban houses are a whole lot grander. Here’s Rachel’s ex's house in the film. Call it city envy, but we’re enjoying the shutters and white picket fences.

And one thing lost in translation: signal failure. In the film you see a lot of construction workers in high-vis vests on the tracks to explain why Rachel’s train isn’t moving.

Where’s the gin-in-a-tin?

In the book, on her way home from her job in PR, Rachel ignores the judgement and raised eyebrows of her fellow commuters as she knocks back G&T mixers from Whistlestop: ‘It’s Friday, so I don’t have to feel guilty about drinking on the train. TGIF.’

Well, gin-in-a-tin must be a British invention. When the filmmakers were working on the script they called writer Paula Hawkins to ask: is G&T in a can actually a thing? Apparently they don't have them in America. Instead, Emily Blunt decants vodka into a water bottle. Which is fooling precisely no one!


On the plus side, Rachel gets a better flatmate

In the book, Rachel is living with an old uni friend, Cathy, who lets her stay in the spare room. Cathy is nice but borderline passive-aggressive: ‘She makes you notice her niceness… she needs it acknowledged, often, daily almost.’ In the film, Cathy is way more cool and definitely more on Rachel’s side. And, added bonus, she is played by ‘Orange is the New Black’ star Laura Prepon.

Helga Esteb /

 'The Girl on the Train' is in cinemas now.

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