"Absorbing, intriguing, insightful" raved a reviewer of The 6:41 to Paris * by Jean-Philippe Blondel; a brilliant psychological thriller though there's nary a crime in sight.
This European bestseller is narrated by Cecile Duffaut and Philippe Leduc, lovers who parted 27 years ago as they meet by chance on the 6:41 morning train bound for Paris. Cecile has just spent a dreary weekend dutifully visiting her parents. The only empty seat in the train compartment is claimed by none other than Philippe. Though they each recognize the other at once, neither acknowledges it.
The once plain and socially-awkward Cecile is now a successful business owner, married with grown children, confident and stylishly dressed while the once handsome, charming and care-free Philippe is unrecognizable - "old, wrinkled, flabby, the kind of man that inspires pity." This gives Cecile no small satisfaction as she remembers Philippe's betrayal and her humiliation on a trip to London so painful that she cannot bear to return to the city. In the time it takes the 6:41 train to reach Paris, their thoughts compellingly trace the meandering paths between who they once were and who they are now.
"A fast, yet deep journey through the characters' experiences of anger, triumph, remorse, and forgiveness, Blondel's novel ... reminds us that even long-ago heartbreaks have the power to ignite our most powerful emotions."
"Funny, wise and conciliatory."
Read-alikes: The Forgiven by Lawrence Osborne; Trains and Lovers by Alexander McCall Smith; and The London Train by Tessa Hadley
* = starred review