Underground Time, By Delphine de Vigan

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The Independent Culture

Every morning Mathilde takes the Metro to her job in the marketing department of a large French corporation. Ever since a disagreement with her narcissistic boss, life in the office has taken a turn for the worse.

Meanwhile on the other side of Paris, paramedic Thibault is getting over an affair with a woman with whom he connects in bed, but who barely looks at him when dressed.

This appealing novelette, judiciously translated by George Miller, follows Mathilde and Thibault as they negotiate the start of an unpromising summer.

The narrative gains momentum in the second half, but despite a close encounter at the Gare de Lyon, the commuters fail to connect. As in her best-known novel, No and Me, de Vigan writes about the loneliness of modern city life.