Book: The Reader on the 6.27
Author: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Available: 4th June 2015
Summary: 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. 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 . . .
Hope you’re all having good weeks and finding the time to read! This week I devoured Jean-Paul Didierlaurent’s The Reader on the 6.27 - I read it in one sitting, I couldn’t put it down! It is one of those feel-good books that gets you really invested in the character’s story, and then puts you in a good mood when you finish it. There is an underlying element of it being a love story, but the novel is so much more than that. Literature, friendship, the act of reading and how we interact with those around us – those are all big themes in the book.
The scenes where Guylain heads to his job at the book-pulping factory are heartbreaking, and not just because I hate the idea of books being destroyed en masse (There was a definite element of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 in those scenes). There’s the evil colleague who takes pleasure in destruction, another colleague who loses his legs in a tragic accident (I promise that’s not a huge spoiler) but refuses to give up on being positive, and then there’s the way Guylain tries to save as many pages as he can as he comes to terms with the guilt of destroying the very things he loves.
What I do love about this novel is that, aside from the book-destroying job, this is a very sweet book. It’s sweet because Guylain is trying to save books in his own unique way. It’s sweet because there are some heartwarming secondary characters you can’t help but get attached to, such as the pair of old ladies who convince Guylain to come and read to them. It’s sweet because Guylain himself is the kind of character you would expect Hugh Grant to play if this was a romantic comedy. But most of all, it’s sweet because it’s a love story without the usual drama of a romance. Guylain finds a USB with Julie’s diary in it, and while I initially didn’t like the fact that he essentially delved into her most private thoughts, because his intentions are made so well-meaning as he increasingly identifies with her, I found myself really rooting for him in his quest to track her down.
Overall this is a very interesting read, especially if you’re interested in the power of literature and how books influence our lives.
Definitely mark the 4th June in your diaries – this is going to be a great summer read! Do you already have some books lined up for the summer that you think I should review? Tweet me at @Julie_Delahaye and let me know!