Jess Commons | Deputy Editor | Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Should Girl On The Train Really Be Set In The US Instead Of The UK?

Should Girl On The Train Really Be Set In The US Instead Of The UK?

The Debrief: Like, do they even drink gins in tins?

According to an interview with author Paula Hawkins in this weekend’s Sunday Times, the film of her record-breaking book Girl on The Train is to be set not in the UK, but instead in the US.

In case you haven’t read the book, (which at this point definitely leaves you in the minority, it’s just become the biggest selling hardback book of all time, c'mon kids get with the programme), it’s about a woman called Rachel who gets the same train from a village in Oxfordshire to Euston station every day. Rachel’s an alcoholic and her life is in tatters. The only high point in her day is the fictional life she’s made up for ‘Jess and Jason’; a couple whose seemingly perfect house she goes past every day on the train. One day on her journey Rachel sees something from the train that sends down an obsessive spiral that may end up tearing the lives of everyone involved apart.

The book's become a massive success for a reason; it’s pretty much why the phrase 'page-turner’ was invented and, as such has drawn inevitable comparisons to Gone Girl. But, as the Guardian’s review at the time said, unlike Gone Girl, it’s a ‘thoroughly British affair’. Now with the plans to move it to America, we’ve got some reservations.

For starters, drinking on trains in America (except in the drinking car) is prohibited. Like, we’re not sure how strictly it’s enforced but according to Amtrak’s official rules, passengers aren’t allowed to consume alcohol that they’ve brought aboard the train unless they’re in ‘Sleeping Car accommodations’. Rachel, being an alcoholic, lives for a gin in a tin on the train and brings four along with her on a Friday evening home from the city. In fact, it's thanks to copious amounts of alcohol that the plot hangs in the balance. We’re not even sure they do gin in a tin in America. They’ve got something called ‘hard lemonade’ but it certainly doesn’t look like a Friday evening train beverage.

Secondly, Rachel is a very British kind of fuck up. Her just-about-holding-it-together above a sea of pessimism, self sabotage and alcoholism seems at odds with the stereotypical American concept of externalising problems. In fact, the whole street on which Jess and Jason live is brimming with unsaid feelings that, if it weren’t for Rachel, would go undiscovered for years thanks to a very British kind of stiff upper lip.

Finally, and this was one of my favourite things about the book; the characters’ descriptions drew to mind images of normal people. IMHO they weren’t Amy or Nick Dunnes; glossy, American-looking kind of people with willowy figures and white teeth, instead they were the sort of people that we could relate to. The description of  how Rachel’s appearance changed thanks to her drinking in the novel is designed to make you feel uncomfortable. For me, finding someone from Hollywood  to do a Renee Zellweger Bridget Jones style transformation just ain’t gonna cut it.

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Podcast: Listen To Us Get Drunk And Talk About Paula Hawkins' New Book Girl On The Train

Here’s What The Actual ‘New Gone Girl’ Books Are

The Crime Fiction Books You Need To Read This Summer

Follow Jess on Twitter @Jess_Commons

Tags: Film, books