|The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel|
Today I am taking part in a virtual book tour for The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel via France Book Tours.
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 is exhausted. These trips back home are always stressful and she settles into a train compartment with an empty seat beside her. But it is 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. Cècile and Philippe undertake their own face to face journey in silence. What could they possibly say to one another? With the reader gaining entry 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.
As an ex-commuter I identified with a lot in this book; the relief at getting a seat, the annoyance when you realise the prized empty seat next to you is about to be taken, the way an early morning commute lets your mind wander back in time and the awkwardness when body parts accidentally touch on a moving train.
I loved the mystery the author created and how he made questions keep popping in to my mind. Why had Cècile and Philippe lost touch? What had happened all those years ago? Why were they both so unsure about being the first to start a conversation? I had so many questions. I am nosy and I wanted to know all the nitty gritty from their shared past, but like a long train journey the author made me wait. This book is certainly full of suspense, but I think to describe it as a psychological thriller is a little bit misleading.
The suspense created and the emotions Cècile and Philippe experienced in their minds, still as strong as ever from their personal recollections, but kept suppressed from the other passengers around them, kept me page turning. However, as I read, I found their ‘voices’ were very similar, too similar sometimes and this meant I often got confused. There was no change in font when there was a change in character and sometimes there didn’t even seem to be an obvious paragraph break. I found myself re-reading the first twenty pages more times than I care to admit as I often found the character had changed without me realising it. This did frustrate me at first, but once I’d accepted I’d have to concentrate a bit harder I did enjoy the book, as I really wanted to discover what had happened and what would happen next.
This book is something a bit different and I’m sure anyone who is used to taking regular train journeys would enjoy it.
ABOUT THE AUTHORJean-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 Clèzio, Christian Bobin, Muriel Barbery and Amèlie Nothomb. She has lived in Northern California and currently lives in a village in Switzerland.
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The 6:41 to Paris will be available in paperback from 10th November 2015 but is available to pre-order from Amazon now. A link can be found below.