Paula Hawkins’s novel has now been top of the UK hardback book chart for 20 weeks, outlasting even Dan Brown’s Lost Symbol
A record set six years ago by Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol was broken this week by Paula Hawkins’s dark thriller The Girl on the Train.
Brown’s Robert Langdon thriller, set in Washington DC amid a world of Masonic secrets, held the No 1 slot in hardback fiction for a record-breaking 19 weeks when it was first published in 2009. Even JK Rowling’s first adult novel The Casual Vacancy, and her crime novels written as Robert Galbraith, failed to reach Brown’s 19-week marker. But Hawkins’s novel, in which a commuter inveigles her way into the lives of a couple she has watched daily from her train, believing something dreadful has happened to them, has just done so, after sitting in the top spot in Nielsen BookScan’s hardback fiction charts for the 20th week in a row, the longest stretch since the book sales monitor’s records began.
Hawkins’ novel sold 7,280 copies last week, to keep its top position in original fiction, almost double the second-placed Pretty Girls, by Karin Slaughter. Publisher Transworld said that it has sold more than 800,000 copies since The Girl on the Train was published in January.
It added that the only adult book to have spent more time in a No 1 slot in the UK is Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which topped paperback – rather than hardback – charts for 65 weeks. Even EL James’s Fifty Shades of Grey spent just 19 weeks at No 1, also in the paperback charts.
Waterstones buyer Joseph Knobbs called the novel’s performance an “old-fashioned” publishing success story. “What’s been astounding about its continued success is that it’s entirely natural. No squad of jet fighters sky-writing its name in the air; just an old-fashioned story of a talented author, impassioned publisher and enthusiastic booksellers,” he said.
Hawkins’s editor Sarah Adams said that when she first read the novel, she “felt Paula was speaking directly to me as a commuter – just what would I do if I saw something untoward out of the train window? Could I be certain I wouldn’t step out of my comfort zone, out of my everyday existence, and become involved?”
“It is a concept that has chimed with countless readers worldwide, and propelled the exceptional word-of-mouth sales,” she said. “To see The Girl On The Train breaking records and achieving quite this level of success is true testament to the exceptional talent of Paula Hawkins and the intoxicating novel she has written.”
This article was written by Alison Flood, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 8th July 2015 16.48 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010