A little gem for book lovers. 3.5/5 stars
Thank you to Pan Macmillan and Netgalley for giving me an e-copy of this book in return for an honest review
The blurb: 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. For 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…
The Reader on the 6.27 is a short novel which is thoroughly charming, and that’s not damning with faint praise. There are several things which lift the book from 3 to 3.5 stars. The characters, particularly the secondary characters, are drawn just on the right side of the line between quirky and caricature. And, in such a short story, this is an asset because the author doesn’t have a lot of time to make them memorable.
The author has great descriptive powers: I applaud his ability to make a book pulping plant resemble one of the lower circles of hell and to insert sections of reading into the text which shine as bright points of happiness amid the drudgery and gloom of Guylain’s day to day. This is definitely a book for book lovers.
The story is also full of originality. In particular, the strand involving Giuseppe’s quest to find his legs is fantastic (sorry if that sounds odd… spoilers!).
The romantic element of the tale is handled with lightness and subtlety. As it develops, you find yourself getting behind the hero and, when it comes, the ending leaves you smiling.
One final note: bravo to
Overall: in under 200 pages, The Reader on the 6.27 achieves a great deal. It will make you grimace, despair, smile and laugh. In the end, you will close the book feeling better for having given it a few hours of your life.
Claire Huston / Art and Soul