Friday, 18 October 2019

The Girl Who Reads on the Métro by Christine Féret-Fleury

The Girl Who Reads on the Métro by Christine Féret-Fleury
First published in French as La fille qui lisait dans le métro by Editions DeNoel in France in 2017. English language translation by Ros Schwarz published by Mantle yesterday, the 17th October 2019.

One of my 2019 New Release Challenge reads and a Book With A Vegetarian Character

How I got this book:
Received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

When Juliette takes the métro to her loathed office job each morning, her only escape is in books – she avidly reads on her journey and imagines what her fellow commuters’ choices might say about them.

But when, one day, she decides to alight the train a few stops early and meets Soliman – the mysterious owner of the most enchanting bookshop Juliette has ever seen – she is sure her life will never be the same again . . .

For Soliman also believes in the power of books to change the course of a life – entrusting his passeurs with the task of giving each book to the person who needs it most – and he thinks Juliette is perfect for the job.

And so, leaving her old life behind, Juliette will discover the true power a book can have . . .

The Girl Who Reads On The Metro is a cute little novel which is being marketed towards 'fans of The Little Paris Bookshop and The Elegance of the Hedgehog'. Personally, I'd substitute Waiting For Monsieur Bellivier for the second of those two. I liked losing myself in this story and could certainly empathise with both Juliette and Soliman's desire to hide in books rather than facing up to the real world. I loved the idea of the passeurs who give out books to strangers based on their perceived need for a specific tome. Even BookCrossing gets a mention leading to characters discussing the journeys books make from reader to reader.- one of the big benefits of paper books over digital editions.

I often felt that I wanted this novel to take bigger risks. Like its main character, Juliette, I felt the narrative seemed too reserved and nervous for the themes it tried to explore. Feret-Fleury's characters are displaced persons either mentally because they do not feel as though they fit within their environments, or physically because they are exiled from their home nation. Communication failures lead to isolation which, despite frequent assurances to the contrary during the story, can't always be solved by starting to read a book. Well, not for everyone anyway!

For me, The Girl Who Reads On The Metro was a nice diversion for a rainy afternoon, but I felt this novel could have been so stronger if its ideas were more fully developed. Hints of magical realism could have been given full rein and side characters such as Chloe and the Woman with the Recipe Book allowed to really blossom. I liked the story but ended up feeling underwhelmed!

Etsy Find!
by Pinocchio UK in
the Ukraine

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Search Literary Flits for more:
Books by Christine Feret-Fleury / Contemporary fiction / Books from France


  1. Replies
    1. I did! Lighter than my usual fare, but nice in its difference :-)

  2. This sounds like it is a book which is quiet and gentle in its plot and presentation. I also can relate to the feeling of wanting to hide away in books from time to time. But I understand how some more risks could've made this one more exciting.

    1. I liked the story, but would remember it as a sorbet story - a light tale to refresh after a more heavyweight novel!

  3. Oh, fun! I like books like these from time to time, too. And this one in particular has been on my radar since I first saw it.

    Glad you indulged!