The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel

 

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The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel

French fiction

Original title – 06H41

Translator – Alison Anderson

Source – Personal copy

 

Another French novel to start July, one been on my radar since it came out a couple of ears ago so when I found a cheap copy of The 6:41 to Paris, I decided it was time to get it. Jean-Philippe Blondel Jean has been teaching English in the Troyes and has written a number of novels and he has won various awards this was a bestseller in Europe and one of the first books published by the American Publisher New Vessel.

Any more of my bullshit and I would have ended up standing for th entire trip- or sitting across from the toliets on one cheek.

Having said that. I did hesitate.

Because when I realized that the only seat available was next to Cecille Duffaut. I felt slightly dizzy, like the heroine of a nineteenth century novel, and i said to my self again, No it can’t be, and I thought I’d move on to the next car.

I’m almost positive she didn’t recognize me .

Philippe sees her but has she seen him .

I’ve always loved stories set on trains, from Christie’s various stories about train travel in the twenties stories like the Blue train and Plymouth Express and of course the Orient Express, through fiction like the train to Budapest on the blog and compartment no 6 which like this involves two characters on a train journey. The setting for this as the enter the early train to Paris a woman Cecille in her forties is joined by Phillippe her former lover from thirty years earlier as the train sets off the two gather they now have two hours journey together. So as the book unfolds each chapter is told by each The painful memory of Cecille, she loved him so much he was the catch of the year they were in and everything seemed perfect catch when they were twenty then. Philippe he is a little bigger, a little older and little worn into he remembers their time , but also the bad years since a terrible failed marriage and other things he wonders if she sees past the past into what has happened to him since  The book flips from side to side as like in the UK the train is running slightly late.

We regret to inform our passengers that the train is currently stopped on the tracks and we ask that you do not try to open the doors. The train will be moving again shortly.

Grumbling and muttering up and down the train.

Sighs

“shit we were almost there . Thats the SNCF for you ”

I was tickled with this as I have often heard this on UK trains , see we are not alone could be worse it could be leaves on the line !!

This is a perfect example of a clever use of framing, setting and timing to make a perfect read . To give us a perfectly paced tale of two ex-lovers meeting by sheer chance but then spend two hours in the same space. A wonderful look at what remains after times, but also what difference can make those decisions we make when we are younger have a brief meeting that has led to two different paths one could say almost exact opposites now faced with their past what to do? This is like many of those novels that discuss the couple’s meeting when a lot of time has passed like in the end of an affair, also the way the story unfolds was like the male story in the novella Tomorrow Pamplona about how a relationship feel apart. A tight book about facing one’s past and present and what might have been.

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Melissa Beck
    Jul 03, 2017 @ 20:28:54

    I really enjoyed this book!

    Reply

  2. Guy Savage
    Jul 03, 2017 @ 21:58:51

    I read this too and liked it a lot. Also in common with you, I have a weakness of stories set on trains. I think this started with the film of Strangers on a Train

    Reply

  3. Lisa Hill
    Jul 04, 2017 @ 01:35:46

    Ha ha, I’m glad I didn’t read this yesterday, my train to the city was stopped by a track fault, and if I’d thought I was going to be stuck there for two hours I would have panicked! (It only took two minutes for them to fix it using some kind of remote technology, so that was pretty good, I thought).

    Reply

  4. JacquiWine
    Jul 04, 2017 @ 06:17:18

    Like you, I have a fondness for novels with this type of setting. This sounds like a good addition to the genre – I suspect it would make a great film too.

    Reply

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