The Reader on the 6.27 by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent

Some people are born deaf, mute or blind.

– Opening sentence

I recently started a new job at an independent publishing company in London.

Some of my colleagues there have formed their own book club, meeting monthly in the large meeting room at lunch with cakes and treats, to discuss their latest read.

Naturally, I jumped at the chance to be involved. Not only would it be a good opportunity for me to get to know my colleagues better, but it would also be a way to discover new books that I might not otherwise be introduced to.

Each month, one person chooses three books, and the remaining members vote for which one they would prefer to read. This month’s winner was The Reader on the 6.27.

Set in France, the story follows Guylain Vignolles, a 36-year-old engineer at the TERN recycling facility. Guylain is by all accounts a sad and lonely man, stuck in the same daily routine with only a goldfish and a couple of unlikely friends for company.

Each morning he feels the same dread as he commutes to work as the facility; the job he hates so much. But Guylain has found a way to distract himself from this never-ending circle – every day he chooses the plastic fold down chair, waits for his fellow commuters to be seated, and reads aloud to the carriage.

We do not know how long Guylain has done this for, but it’s long enough to be expected – with his fellow commuters becoming loyal fans, eager for the next instalment.

One day, Guylain accidentally stumbles across the diary of a woman known only as Julie. Enthralled by her entries, he decides to share them with his commuter audience, and is pleased to find them just as touched by her prose.

Thus starts the unlikely mission to locate Julie. And you can guess the rest…

I’ve just painted The Reader on the 6.27 as a soppy romance – but it really isn’t. It’s actually a charming and surprisingly heartfelt book with a much deeper meaning sewn between the lines.

The author does a wonderful job of bringing each of the characters to life, making it easy for me to picture Guylain as I sat on my own seat (the same every morning) on my own train (the 7.42) each morning.

We haven’t had our book club meeting yet, it’s still a couple of weeks away, but I can’t wait to hear what everyone else thinks about it (I’ll update this post when I do).

For me, it’s an instant comfort-read that I know I will reach for when I want something quick and wholesome.

4 Stars (4 / 5)

Then I picked up the phone, thinking that 14,718 was a really beautiful number on which to begin a love affair.

– Final sentence

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