The Girl Who Reads on the Metro: Magic and books and reading on the metro

What is this about?: Juliette is in a rut, and her escape is her books, her time to read on her commute to work — until she meets the unlikeliest of bookish heroes.

What else is this about?: It’s a reminder to slow down, to appreciate things (books) and it’s juts a little bit magical

Blurb

In the vein of Amelie and The Little Paris Bookshop, a modern fairytale about a French woman whose life is turned upside down when she meets a reclusive bookseller and his young daughter.

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 metro 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 Metro 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.

The Girl Who Reads on the Metro is just a little bit magical. It’s also wonderfully relatable because these days, most of my reading is done on my commute every day. 

I resented books like this at one point — the ones that make it seem like it’s easy to ditch your responsibilities and start a book store (or book van) in an economy that will eat you up alive. 

But The Girl Who Reads on the Metro has more than its fair share of heartache, in amongst the magic and I guess maybe this is why it resonated with me

Juliette is a voracious reader, reading on her commute, and watching the other readers around her, wondering why on page 247 of a book, someone might give the hugest sigh. She is in a rut though — unhappy with her life and work and wanting to find some way out (or rather not even realising that’s what she was looking for). 

Fate or the universe brings her to a bookstore of sorts, or rather Zaide kind of does, liked a Pied Piper leading her away from her life to something new — to Soliman, who recruits passuers and sends them out into the world with books to set free and see what happens. In case you are wondering what exactly passuers are? Exactly what I said: Soliman gives his chosen few passuers books from his store and sends them out into the world to find the readers to whom these books belong. Juliette as a result gets more than a few weird looks thrown her way with her big bag of books, even more so when she tries to give them away. 

Juliette is longing for something more she hasn’t found, and I could relate to that – to taking a chance that makes no sense to anyone, but yourself. Eventually,  Soliman asks her to stay for a bit to help with Zaide, because he has to go away —  and she does, only to have something tragic befall him and she’s left to … re-purpose her life.

Yeah, books like this are hard to buy, sometimes. There’s always a sense of something so unattainable about them for me, and I want desperately to be able to run a bookstore somewhere, and lose myself in reading and blogging, as a legitimate career, as if there aren’t a bazillion more blogs doing it better than me right now.

But sometimes, some books hit that sweet spot — of magic and a reality, with each making the other more palatable, and possible — and that’s The Girl Who Reads on the Metro.

14 Comments

  • Ohhh, this sounds like a really lovely read! In one of my past jobs I had an hour-long commute, so I used to read on the bus on my way to work. It’s also nice to know there is a sort of moral to the story. I’ll definitely keep this one in mind!

  • Silvia says:

    You could relate to this book so well that I think that is the real magic <3
    Lovely review, Verushka, I'm definitely keeping this title in mind!

  • Jen Mullen says:

    Sometimes we really need a magical fairy tale!

  • Angela says:

    I’m so glad to hear you loved this one!! I bought it on a whim when I saw it in a bookstore – bookish main character, set in Paris, Eiffel Tower on the cover – I couldn’t resist even though it was kind of expensive. I haven’t read it yet, but now I really want to!

  • I’ve seen this one around and was curious, so thanks for sharing. I’m glad that this was a good read for you. These books do often make me wish I could have some sort of bookish job that I just absolutely adore.

    -Lauren

  • Lark says:

    I totally get resenting books like this because my life never ends up like a magical fairy tale either, no matter how much I may want it to. But I still can’t resist reading these kinds of books. The dream of them is just too nice to pass up. 🙂

  • Sam@wlabb says:

    I relate to Juliette so hard. Books an escape to read on your commute while you’re in a rut. So much in common. Obviously I love the sound of Juliette, but I like that there’s a bit of magic in the book too. Sounds like a winner to me.

    • Verushka says:

      Me too — that’s what’s so understandable about her. And… I may have been a wee bit too enamoured of how this book made me feel and gone overboard on the gushing because there isn’t any actual magic in the book — though I thought it read like a little bit of magic 🙂

  • This sounds just about perfect! I will definitely be adding it to my TBR. Fantastic review!

  • RO says:

    This reminds me of this really cool lady who lives in Paris ironically, and she worked in a library. We used to talk about how she had this long commute to work and would read her mostly ebooks versus printed ones. She blogged for a while, then eventually gave it up, but she was really neat. I don’t need to commute every day, but a ook is in my hand or bag wherever I go. Never know when you’re gonna get stuck somewhere, right? The book sounds fab! Hope you are well! Hugs, RO

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