Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan
2009/2011 , Bloomsbury
Genre: Adult Fiction, French Culture
My Rating: 3.5/5
Description (from Goodreads.com):
Every day, Mathilde takes the Metro to her job at a large multinational, where she has felt miserable and isolated ever since getting on the wrong side of her bullying boss. Every day, Thibault, a paramedic, drives where his dispatcher directs him, fighting traffic to attend to disasters. For many of the people he rushes to treat, he represents the only human connection in their day. Mathilde and Thibault are just two figures being pushed and shoved in a lonesome, crowded city. But what might happen if these two souls, traveling their separate paths, could meet?
This was my first French to English translation and it was pretty decent. The book itself is mostly build up, and the ending left me wondering if I had missed something. Upon reflection, I think this book is more philosophical than most, in that it is more about the emotions and the possibilities than the moment. The reader feels sympathy for the characters and becomes quite emotional. The writing style reminded me of Eden Robinson, in that each chapter is a collection of fragmented scenes. You get a glimpse at a situation, and then it changes to something else. It is like watching a movie made of separate, yet connected, clips. This method, I feel, adds to the intimacy of the situations.
Mathilde’s plotline was very tense. You could feel her stress and despair. So many women are in similar positions and I like how the book gave awareness of bullying towards women in the workplace. While a man could quit his job and still get by, Mathilde has three children. It was difficult reading her story at times because it felt like there was no solution. Thibault’s plotline was a bit less tense, but it had more despair. A great sense of loss is felt for both characters. Intuition and the ability to read between the lines is important for understanding this story. There is lots to think about after finishing the book.