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

The Reader on the 6.27
by Jean-Paul Didierlaurent, Ros Schwartz (Translation)

Publication date: March 10th 2016
Publisher: Pan Books
Pages: 195


Working at a job he hates, Guylain Vignolles has but one pleasure in life. Sitting on the 6.27 train each day, Guylain reads aloud. 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, who feels as lost in the world as he does.

This is a tale bursting with larger-than-life characters, each of whom touches Guylain’s life for the better. This captivating novel is a warm, funny fable about literature’s power to uplift even the most downtrodden of lives.

Source: Goodreads


I finished this book in two days because it was so short, but having now finished all 194 pages I wish it hadn’t bothered at all.

‘The Reader on the 6:27’ has a great cover, an interesting blurb and great reviews, so I was expecting to enjoy it. A commuter and a book lover myself, I thought I would be able to relate. Guylain Vignolles works in a book pulping factory, something I honestly didn’t know existed. He travels to work every day by train, sits in the same seat and reads random pages from books he has pulped. Fine, right? No. He reads them aloud to the whole carriage. Maybe in France this would work but it certainly wouldn’t go down well in the UK!

The story doesn’t end there. Author Didierlaurent throws in a few more plots for good measure; a colleague gets his legs crushed in the pulping machine and spends years hunting down all of the books which technically contain his pulped legs, Guylain starts reading his pages at an old people’s home, and there’s a rather surreal romantic plot too.

Quite frankly, I was bored. At first I thought the translation from French to English was to blame and I do think this has affected it in some way, but there are pages and pages of detailed descriptions of the dullest things, it cannot all be down to language. There was a whole chapter detailing the workings of the pulping machine. We hear far more than necessary about the shiny new wheelchair of his colleague, Guiseppe, and there is even a large section about toilets. The whole thing was bizarre.

“Guylain never failed to greet the old-man-in-slippers-and-pyjamas-under-his-raincoat and to egg on Balthus in his urinary peregrinations with a friendly pat.”

The characters themselves were not very likeable either. Difficult to engage with and with few redeeming qualities, I just wasn’t interested.

Overall rating: Dull and strange, ‘The Reader on the 6:27’ was just far too boring for me, 1 star.


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