Title: The Girl Who Reads on the Metro
Author: Christine Feret-Fleury
Publisher: Mantle (2019)
Juliette has an office job in the beautiful city of Paris. She takes the metro everyday and often dwells on how uninspiring her current job is. Her favourite part of the day are the moments she snatches whilst riding the metro, as she imagines what everyone else in the carriage would be reading.
During one of these journey’s, Juliette travels to an unknown part of the city and discovers a bookshop owned by a man called Soliman. It is the most interesting and wonderful bookshop she has ever come across.
After getting to know one another, Soliman suggests she should become a passeur – a kind of bookseller who takes unwanted books out into the city to give them to people who look like they need it. The task is essentially matching a book to a person and sharing the love of literature just for the sake of it, Juliette is soon in her element.
This story is essentially a book about the love of books and how books can unite us all. We are all in some way, destined to cross paths with a book which will resonate with us completely. However, finding those books can take a lifetime of resilience. Which is why passeur‘s have such a role to play.
Juliette, after some unforeseen circumstances, takes it on herself to move into the bookshop and run the store. Her previous mundane life is soon turned upside down, in favour of spreading a love of books to the rest of Paris. This book is such a joy to read – it is as warming as it is comforting.
I picked this book up in a time of need, when I was stuck in a reading rut and didn’t know what I wanted to read, but all I knew is that I wanted to read something, you know? I didn’t want to read something heavy or important, but something that would make me fall in love with books again, and this book did just that!
The story may be simple, but the message is enduring and comforting. Juliette, the main character, becomes involved in the running of a bookshop in Paris. Part of her role is to be a passeur; she takes the piles of ‘unwanted’ books from the bookshop and distributes them throughout Paris. She has to match the book to unknown individuals who she thinks will appreciate them. It’s a story which suggests everyone is searching for that one book that just fits them and everything they need – but that it can take a life time to achieve on your own, hence the need for a passeur.
Juliette is a staunch lover of books, and her mission in life combined with this new role, seems to be carrying this onto other people. Like most booksellers and lovers of books, she sees the value in books and how they can help us all. Thus, this appears to be the central message of the book. It is not complex or over-complicated but nonetheless an important one.
Although short and sweet, this book made me feel warm and reconnected with books once again. In these uncertain times, the value of books, stories, and escapism rings too true. A book about books is something every reader would love – and this book is certainly one I loved too.
This book won’t change your life, or how you see the world, but it has the ability to rekindle you with a love of literature – if you have temporarily lost it.