October 8, 2019
Blurb: Juliette leads a perfectly ordinary life in Paris, working a slow office job, dating a string of not-quite-right men, and fighting off melancholy. The only bright spots in her day are her métro rides across the city and the stories she dreams up about the strangers reading books across from her: the old lady, the math student, the amateur ornithologist, the woman in love, the girl who always tears up at page 247.
One morning, avoiding the office for as long as she can, Juliette finds herself on a new block, in front of a rusty gate wedged open with a book. Unable to resist, Juliette walks through, into the bizarre and enchanting lives of Soliman and his young daughter, Zaide. Before she realizes entirely what is happening, Juliette agrees to become a passeur, Soliman’s name for the booksellers he hires to take stacks of used books out of his store and into the world, using their imagination and intuition to match books with readers. Suddenly, Juliette’s daydreaming becomes her reality, and when Soliman asks her to move in to their store to take care of Zaide while he goes away, she has to decide if she is ready to throw herself headfirst into this new life.
Big-hearted, funny, and gloriously zany, The Girl Who Reads on the Métro is a delayed coming-of-age story about a young woman who dares to change her life, and a celebration of the power of books to unite us all.
Buy from Amazon: The Girl Who Reads On The Metro.
I’ve come across many people who say: my life was changed by this book. This book changed my life! The power of books. When you least expect it, here you are reading, and find your life changed. This is the essence of Christine Féret-Fleury’s The Girl Who Reads On The Metro.
Juliette rides the metro every day to work at her boring job, meanwhile reading into the lives of the people she sees on the metro, especially those who have books in hand, all the while neglecting her own book. One day, she finds herself in a different neighborhood, seeing a book being mistreated, in fact, being used as a doorstop, and her life changes.
Juliette enters the world of Soliman and his precocious daughter, Zaide. Soliman asks Juliette to become a passeur, a conveyor of books, the individual who knows the right book for the right person. But Juliette doesn’t follow people around, doesn’t observe who they are, rather, she has an instinctual…perhaps more intuitive… ability that places a book in the right place.
Soliman tells Juliette he must leave and entrusts her with his work and daughter. Very soon, Juliette finds herself lost in books, as Zaide points out, much like her father was.
The title is misleading. The Girl Who Reads On The Metro is more the places where books take us, what we learn from books, who we become because of books, what books make us, but how boring those titles would be! This book is about books. All of those lovely voyages that we take every time we open the page of a novel and are swept up by its story.
The prose, in English, is beautiful, as I must hope, imagine, that it is in its original French. Every word is like honey, sweet, holding the reader close on this journey that all readers and writers share: the love of the written word. The love of books.
As a reader and writer, The Girl Who Reads On The Metro spoke to me. It’s a love story. Not the traditional love man-woman love story, but a love story of books. All of these treasures that allow us to escape, enjoy the lives of other people, people living disparate lives. All of the beautiful stories.
At the end there’s a list of the books that Juliette has on her van. It’s like a reader’s nirvana.
The Girl Who Reads On The Metro is also open to all ways of life and cultures.
For some reason, not obvious to me, The Girl Who Reads On The Metro has not been well-received. Misreading? The blurb leading to disappointment? I find that unfortunate because it’s beautifully written with a hopeful message. Read. There are new and wonderful worlds out there. Do you want to find them? Read on. 😉
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 butterflies and a ladybug out of 5 butterflies