In this bestselling novel, every morning, Guylain Vignolles waits for the 6.27 train. He enjoys the ride to work, but dreads arriving at his job.
“I need a goldfish,” mumbled Guylain...From experience, he knew that there was a vast difference between living alone and living alone with a goldfish.”
Guylain Vignolles spends his days at a job he hates, feeding unsold books into a pulping machine that he calls “The Thing.” The pulp is recycled into paper for books that Guylain is likely to feed into the pulping machine someday.
“In The Thing, there are rats and dark corners, where books meet their death and the books disappeared into The Thing’s belly in the thousands.”
Guylain is not the only one who hates “The Thing.” His friend and former co-worker, Giuseppe, lost his legs to the jaws of the pulping machine. Giuseppe is determined to track down every copy of the book made from the paper that contains his “lost legs.”
At night, Guylain is on a quest of his own. He dries the few tattered pages that he has saved each day from the pulping machine. In the morning, he reads the pages aloud to passengers on the 6.27 train.
“For all those fellow commuters, he was the reader, the bizarre character, who each weekday would read out in a loud, clear voice, from the handful of pages he extracted from his briefcase.”
One morning on the 6.27 train, Guylain finds a journal left on his seat. The journal belongs to a woman named Julie, and Guylain stays up all night reading every entry. Julie writes about feeling “lost” and Guylain is drawn to this mystery woman and feeling hopeful for the first time in his life.
Translated from the original French, “The Reader on the 6.27” is written for lovers of books and reading. The author, Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, said he wanted to show “ordinary people who often go unnoticed...each of them could have their own unexpected story.”
All the characters in this novel are seeking something that is missing from their lives – from Julie who writes her journal while working as a lavatory assistant, to Yvon, the security guard at the book pulping factory, who is an amateur poet. I especially enjoyed the character of Giuseppe and his friendship with Guylain. “The Reader on the 6.27” is a beautifully written story filled with warmth and humor.
“The Reader on the 6.27” has been sold in 38 countries around the world. On December 5, 2021, Jean-Paul Didierlaurent died of cancer at the age of 59. Didierlaurent had twice won the International Hemingway Award for his short stories. “The Reader on the 6.27” was his first novel.
Many have suggested Jean-Pierre Jeunet, the screenwriter and director of Amélie, a movie about a shy and lonely waitress in Paris, would be the right person to adapt “The Reader on the 6.27” for film.
Before his death, Jean-Paul Didierlaurent had said, “Lots of people have told me that the novel reminds them of the films of Jeunet.” The author considered the comparison “un sacré compliment.”
In a French frame of mind today? See the French Macarons with a Hand Mixer recipe here or Claude Monet’s Water Lilies at the Musée de l’Orangerie here.
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No Time to Spare
Read This for Inspiration
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Jane Austen: A Life
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