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

Publisher:  Panmacmillan

Publication date: 10th March 2016 (Paperback)


the-reader-on-the-6-27By immersing myself in The Reader on the 6.27 I found a little corner of the world where words, either spoken or written, bridge the gap between loneliness and hope. For the briefest moment it can be the most rewarding experience there is.

Every morning during his commute, Monsieur Guylain Vignolles voluntarily reads aloud from the collection of single pages of books that have been orphaned from its parent. A random yet captive audience of strangers listens intently waiting for the next paragraph to begin, and Guylain willingly obliges until the words on the page run out.

This smallest of reprieves is more sustaining than a hearty breakfast. It sets Guylain up for his endless days at the book pulping factory where he works, like a prisoner in his orange overalls sentenced to hard labour. The only crime he commits from Monday to Friday is destroying tonnes of unsold works which he feeds to the machine they call The Thing.

Being both prisoner and executioner the only comfort of his job is when he aides the escape of the pages that are lucky enough to break free of The Thing, so he can recite from these random leafs on the train at 6.27.

This rail connection offers a man with only his goldfish for company an abstract sanctuary. Even though the paragraphs are cut short, the story forever unfinished, it doesn’t matter. It’s the art of reading, irrespective of the content, that makes the reader and his eager audience take these fleeting intervals from their lives. And yet, as the pages turned I could see that the rut he was stuck in was deepening – the skipped meals, his empty home, the endless unchanging routine.

Be it by chance, fate, or pure luck, the lonely operative finds an abandoned USB stick containing the diarised account of a young woman’s life. By candidly recounting all of her own mundaness this unfamiliar woman, known only as Julie, would rescue him from the madness of his own daily grind. As he shares portions of her writing to those who are listening, Guylain and the other thirsty souls lap up every word.

This entire story is something to be cherished, I adore it and I mean everything about it. The tragedy of destroying books, only being able to save a fragment of them like a macabre souvenir of Guylain’s tiresome days, is balanced with renewed optimism as his journey to track down the illusive writer of the diary gives him the courage to step back into the light. And his relationship with the previous operator of The Thing is simply wonderful – I raise a glass of champagne to Monsieur Vignolles and the discreetness of his unwavering emotional generosity.

With its quirky humour giving a second chance to everything that is thought to be lost, The  Reader on the 6.27 is a pure delight.

Rating:   5/5

(Source: My own purchased copy.)


(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

An international bestseller from French author Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, The Reader on the 6.27 is ready to take you on a journey …

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. But it is when he discovers the diary of a lonely young woman, Julie – a woman who feels as lost in the world as he does – that his journey will truly begin …

The Reader on the 6.27 is a tale bursting with larger-than-life characters, each of whom touches Guylain’s life for the better. For fans of Amelie and Mr Penumbra’s 24-hour Bookstore, this captivating novel is a warm, funny fable about literature’s power to uplift even the most downtrodden of lives.



(Courtesy of Publisher’s website)

Jean-Paul Didierlaurent lives in the Vosges region of France. His short stories have twice won the International Hemingway Award. The Reader on the 6:27 is his first novel. ” ” ” “Ros Schwartz has translated over 60 works of fiction and non-fiction from French including a new translation of Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. In 2009 she was made a Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres for her services to French literature.