The Reader on the 6.27 – J-P Didierlaurent review

The Reader on the 6.27 Book Cover The Reader on the 6.27
Jean-Paul Didierlaurent
Pan Macmillan
May 1, 2015

Guylain Vignolles leads a dull and solitary life. He hates his job and his only company at home is a goldfish. Every morning he takes the 6.27 to his tedious job at a book pulping factory. He hates his boss and his assistant but he finds companionship with the factory's guard, an eccentric aficionado of classical literature. On the train each morning on the way to work, Guylain reads aloud to his fellow commuters the disparate pages that he rescues from the jaws of the monstrous pulping machine. One morning on the train, he finds a USB stick which contains the diary of a young woman. As Guylain reads the diary, he finds himself falling love with its author . . . This enchanting novel is a warm and funny fable about literature's power to uplift even the most monotonous of lives; and how there can be dignity and poetry for even the most misunderstood.

I find it a little difficult to know quite what to make of this book by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent in some ways. It certainly has a charm to it. It has some very rich descriptive writing in it and some of the characters held depth and interest. As the blurb says this is a story about Guylain Vignolles, who works at a book pulping plant and hates his job (as well as a number of the people he works with). Each evening he salvages odd pages that “The Thing” has missed destroying and reads them to the railway carriage on his way to work the next days.

If you read all the blurb the book will hold few surprises and that is part of my problem with this short book. I really did feel that it promised a story that would interest me but I was left wanting more. I really liked the thread about Guylain’s predecessor in the job for example. It was a tantalising glimpse into an intriguing character and story that was left on the side. Equally the book pulping works had glimpses of interesting story lines that could have gone further. All in all I feel that this is a story that should have either been longer and so had time to explore other interesting areas or shorter and focused solely on the main tale. It is a poetic, lyrical story that was pleasant and it is certainly not a bad book however, for me, it could have been better.

Note – I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review