Book review: The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel

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The 6:41 to Paris

(fiction)

 Release date: November 10, 2015
at New Vessel Press

153  pages

ISBN: 978-1939931269

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

Cecile, a stylish 47-year-old, has spent the weekend visiting her parents in a provincial town southeast of Paris. By early Monday morning, she’s exhausted. These trips back home are always stressful and she settles into a train compartment with an empty seat beside her. But it’s soon occupied by a man she instantly recognizes: Philippe Leduc, with whom she had a passionate affair that ended in her brutal humiliation 30 years ago. In the fraught hour and a half that ensues, their express train hurtles towards the French capital. Cécile and Philippe undertake their own face to face journey—In silence? What could they possibly say to one another?—with the reader gaining entrée to the most private of thoughts. This is a brilliant psychological thriller, a high-wire act of emotions on rails, about past romance, with all its pain and promise. [provided by the publisher]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

portrait de Jean-philippe Blondel
portrait de Jean-philippe Blondel

Jean-Philippe Blondel
was born in 1964 in Troyes, France

where he lives as an author and English teacher.
His novel The 6:41 to Paris
has been a bestseller in both France and Germany.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Alison Anderson is a novelist and translator of literature from French. Among the authors she has translated are JMG Le Clézio, Christian Bobin, Muriel Barbery and Amélie Nothomb. She has lived in Northern California and currently lives in a village in Switzerland.
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Review:

“I’m talking to you and you can’t hear me.  

Thirty minutes to dive in, into the flotsam of the years gone by, and hope to find a piece of wood, a roof, a boat adrift – to start everything over again.”.

The 6:41 to Paris is a glimpse into the private musings of two people unexpectedly seated together on the same train.  Two persons who, 27 years previous, parted in pain.  Each agonizes over past memories, mistakes,  family problems and and contemplate their possible futures.  

This book, originally written in French, was translated into English by Alison Anderson.  It was incredibly well done.   The dual musings blended back and forth smoothly between Cecile and Philippe, one picking up where the other left off.  Their story begins to take shape as their train rolled on toward Paris, their final destination.  

There were many gentle and amusing anectdotes and reflections which I found to be beautifully written.   For example:

“There comes an age when you find yourself trapped between indifferent children and recalcitrant parents.  That’s all there is to it.  I’m forty-seven years old.  I’m right in the middle of it.”

A pleasant and easy read (perfect for a trip!).  You’ll want to pass this this story on to someone else to enjoy as well.

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