Today I welcome France Book Tours back to the blog with an intriguing literary novel from New Vessel Press. This novel was originally written and published in French and this English translation has been done by Alison Anderson. Scroll down to the end of the review to enter to win your own copy and to look at all of the stops on the book tour.
Cécile is a stylish and confident forty-seven year old entrepreneur who owns a successful cosmetics company, has been married for twenty years and has a teenage daughter. When the book opens, she has just visited her elderly parents for the weekend and is about to take the 6:41 a.m. train back to her home in Paris. As her parents age, her weekend visits to their home are becoming harder for her and more depressing. The only thing that Cécile wants to do on the train is to relax and have a few hours of peace and quiet. But when she realizes who sits down next to her on the train, her commute back home is anything but restful.
Philippe Leduc is also forty-seven but time has not been as kind to his physique as it has to Cécile. Philippe is divorced and his teenage children pretty much want nothing to do with him and he has a monotonous job selling televisions in a big box chain store. He is also on the 6:41 a.m. train to Paris but for a very different reason than Cécile. Philippe’s childhood friend is dying of cancer and Philippe is on his way to the hospital in Paris to say his final goodbyes. Philippe also assumes that his train ride will be quiet, until he realize that the only seat left on the train is the one next to his ex-girlfriend, Cécile.
Philippe and Cécile had a four month relationship when they were in their early twenties. They were both very different people at the time: Philippe was the most popular boy in school, handsome, and very popular; Cécile was plain looking, shy and did not have many friends. They immediately recognize one another on the train, but neither one of them has the courage to speak up and acknowledge one other’s presence. They each sit in silence and contemplate the disaster that was their short-lived romantic relationship that ended more than twenty years ago.
While they were dating, the relationship, for the most part, seemed fine but Cécile always had the feeling that Philippe was better than her and that he would inevitably dump her for someone better. They go on a trip to London together which ends up being an awful memory for both of them because it is on this very trip that Philippe decides to end the relationship in the worst possible way. What is interesting about the end of their affair is the effect it has on each of them. Cécile decides she will never again be made to feel inferior and will not be treated so badly by anyone. Philippe, on the other hand, knows that he has behaved in a very mean and churlish way towards Cécile and this eats away as his pride and confidence. He is never able to recover from the guilt of this bad breakup and never has a successful relationship after his time with Cécile.
The ending to this book is very interesting as the author builds up to the conclusion. We are left wondering if Cécile and Philippe will ever speak with each other; and if they do have a conversation will it be amicable? New Vessel Press has provided us with another entertaining translation of a charming French book.
About The Author/Translator:
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.
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.
You can enter the global giveaway here or on any other book blogs participating in this tour. Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook, they are listed in the entry form below. This giveaway is open to US residents only. Five participants will each win an ARC print copy of this book.
CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ OTHER REVIEWS AND AN EXCERPT