Title- The Girl Who Reads on the Metro
Author- Christine Feret-Fleury
This is the first novel I’d read translated from French.
Genre- contemporary women’s fiction
POV- third person
Steam level- 0/5 spice
Cover– cute but I expected more romance from the cover, which there wasn’t
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.
First chapter- The vibe started out with a daydreamer, people-watcher character who was moping from one day to the next unsatisfied with the route her life had taken. I was already intrigued by the man with the insect book.
Best part- the beautiful, poetic prose
What I would change- more of a character goal
Secondary characters- 10 year old Zaide brings life to her dad, Soliman’s bookshop. And Chloe has such a specific personality. I’m also super glad that Man with the Green Hat made a return.
Setting- Paris, though the tiny book storage room is where the sensory details were most vivid
Character goals/motivations- finding a purpose
Theme- finding oneself
Vivid sensory descriptions- Above average prose and great metaphors
Diversity- Soliman is from Iran and I believe the rest of the characters are French. I didn’t recall any LGBTQ characters.
Conflict/tension/obstacles- this was more of an introspection book and not much plot with events and obstacles
Pacing- fast because of how tiny the book is
“He had chosen to hide away in a fortress built of books, fragments of which he regularly sent out into the world, like sending messages in bottles across the sea, offerings and gestures of affection destined for kindred spirits, those who, outside the walls, we’re confronted with real life.”
Thoughts while reading-
Page 32- I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… I love when there are books within books!
Page 50- so far I’d classify this as charming, whimsical, and slightly askew
Page 78- that took an unexpected turn. I love the storytelling of this novel, it’s magnetizing for the strange simplicity of it
Page 88- the spying and cryptic vibe is so odd but yet endearing
Page 119- oh my goodness, the idea of giving every guest at a wedding a used book made my heart flutter
Ending- I didn’t like that the epilogue changed to first person