Tag Archives: Delphine de Vigan

Underground Time (Delphine de Vigan)

Underground time : a novelUnderground Time by Delphine de Vigan
Age: Adult
Genre: Fiction
Source:  Bloomsbury Books via LibraryThing Early Reviewers
ISBN: 9781608197125 / 257 pages
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For more than six months, Mathilde has been battling a deep depression spurred by the unwarranted and unexplained anger displayed by her supervisor at work. Every day she goes to work, she feels increasingly isolated, neglected and miserable. Thibault is a paramedic driving around Paris making house calls for the sick and needy, for some providing the only company they’ll have until his next visit. Both Mathilde and Thibault are tired and live a routine that wears on their hearts. Would they be able to save each other’s lives?

That is the main premise of de Vigan’s novel Underground Time. Although I loved No and Me, I felt that Underground Time was very much lacking. I felt that it was jumpy, disjointed, and somewhat muddled. The entire book follows the routine and events of Mathilde and Thibault on May 20th. But throughout the book, the author jumps back in time to previous events without warning, which left me wondering what was going on and when it was going on.

Both Mathilde and Thibault are likeable characters. Jacques is one of the best written jerk bosses, but even his change in feeling towards Mathilde isn’t well explained. He just shifted and she felt the wrath of his anger for months before hitting her boiling point.

It is an interesting look at what everyday life in Paris can be like. It can be like the everyday drudgery in every major city. de Vigan takes the reader through Paris’ back streets and underground metro in a distinct way that made me feel as if I was along for the ride with Thibault and Mathilde. Mathilde is a widow, single mother of three suffering at the figurative abuse at the hands of her boss. Thibault lives a very routine life and decides to break-up with his very aloof girlfriend Lila. Mathilde’s narrative and story is much more interesting and more developed than Thibaults. There are more chapters dedicated to Mathilde and her struggles at work and with her depression that with Thibault and his emotions.

Although the premise is interesting, the book doesn’t follow through on the promise of the synopsis. Mathilde and Thibault don’t interact until very late in the book, even then, it is quickly forgotten. I suppose that’s the meaning, that they can’t save each other.

No and Me (Delphine de Vigan) – Review (Paris in July)

No and meNo and Me by Delphine de Vigan
Age: Teen
Genre: Fiction
Location: Paris
Publisher: Bloomsbury, 2007
ISBN: 9781599904795
244 pages

Lou Bertignac is not like other girls. At thirteen, she is gifted beyond her years, sitting in class with students two years older than her. When put on the spot one day about a presentation topic, quick-thinking Lou agrees to do a report on homeless young women, in the form of an interview. As a result of this project, Lou meets No (Nolwenn) at one of Paris’ subway stations and the two strike an unlikely connection right away. Soon Lou realizes that its her responsibility to help No get off the streets and get back to a regularly life, anyway she can.

This was one book I could not put down. I really fell for Lou. Although I tend to stay away from books featuring gifted children, Lou felt like a normal 13 year old girl. She is an only child, with her mother stuck in a state of deep depression and her dad struggling to keep up appearances and keep everyone happy. In Lou’s words:

I’m thirteen and I can see that I’m not managing to grow up in the right way: I can’t understand the signs, I’m not in control of my vehicle, I keep taking wrong turns, and most of the time I feel like I’m stuck on the side of the road rather than on a racetrack.

Lou instantly bonds with No as a result of their distant relationships with their mothers. In fact, I would call that one of the running themes in the book. Distant mother’s effected Lou, No and Lou’s crush Lucas.

Although No is one of the central characters, I feel as if I never really got to know her. I think it was mostly because the story was told through Lou’s perspective, but I think the author intended to keep No in the dark from the readers.

At what point is it too late? From what moment? The first time I met her? Six months ago, two years ago, five years? Can you get out of a fix like that? How do you find yourself at the age of eighteen out on the streets with nothing and no one?

No is a girl with very serious problems and despite Lou’s help, No keeps falling back into her old, bad habits.

The book is written beautifully. It is very thoughtful and introspective and concise. It’s sad, but not depressing, and I’m very satisfied with the ending. It wasn’t your typical happy ending. Teens with definitely connect with either Lou, No or Lucas. Misunderstood, gifted, yet unchallenged teens trying to figure out life in very real circumstances. The book also encourages readers to look outside of their lives and see the world around them for what it really is.

Book 32 of 2011

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