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Friday, 11 March 2016

Review: The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

There are good books, there are okay books, there are books you enjoy that slip quickly and quietly from your mind the moment you close the covers. And then there are those books that tilt your whole world as you are forced to shuffle your all-time-favourites down a notch to create room for them at the top.

These moments are rare- years can go by, and hundreds of books read between one of these rare reads and the next. Well- I’ve just found one.

The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent is a translation from the French. It tells the tale of Guylain Vignolles, who seems to have removed himself to the peripheries of his own life. He has various ways of dealing with the perceived misery of a job he hates and an empty existence. Guylain works at a book-pulping factory, and his only relief is found in the pages he saves from the machine, dries carefully and then reads aloud during his daily commute.

So- what made this so special? I know that I was reading this in translation, so I can’t comment on the original language, but in this version, not a single word was wasted. This slim volume packs a punch with its atmosphere and its characters. It was populated by a motley crew of oddities- that actually, on closer inspection, could be you, me and any of the people who live their lives around us. It may have weighed in at under 200 pages- but by the end of this book, I cared- I mean, really cared about these characters.

There’s also the fact that this book is a love letter to books,  celebrating both the beauty of physical books and the power the written-word has to change people’s lives. If you’re a book-lover, (which I’m assuming you are as you are on a book-blog!) this is an un-missable joy.

If you are a fan of the film Amelie- with its curious and whimsical take on life, loneliness, love and friendship- then I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It’s certainly earned its place on my ‘Keepers’ shelf- and maybe one day I will learn French well enough to be able to enjoy reading the original.

Have you read it? What did you think? Reckon you’ll be picking this one up (DO IT!) – let me know in the comments!

Grab your copy of The Reader on the 6.27 here!

The Blurb

Guylain Vignolles lives on the edge of existence. Working at a book pulping factory in a job he hates, he has but one pleasure in life . . .

Sitting on the 6.27 train each day, Guylain recites aloud from pages he has saved from the jaws of his monstrous pulping machine. And it's this release of words into the world that starts our hero on a journey that will finally bring meaning into his life.

For one morning, Guylain discovers the diary of a lonely young woman: Julie. A woman who feels as lost in the world as he does. As he reads from these pages to a rapt audience, Guylain finds himself falling hopelessly in love with their enchanting author . . .

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