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Underground Time

3.43 of 5 stars 3.43  ·  rating details  ·  739 ratings  ·  123 reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published November 22nd 2011 by Bloomsbury USA (first published August 26th 2009)
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Impac Dublin Award 2013 Long List
96th out of 154 books — 55 voters
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120th out of 189 books — 130 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,496)
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Rating: 4.5 Stars

Underground Time is a difficult book to read. I found myself setting it down, time and time again, telling myself I wouldn’t pick it back up because there was enough depression in life without needing to read about it in a book too. When I did, inevitably, pick it up, I found myself reciting, “It’s just a book, it’s just a book, it’s not real life, don’t let it get to you, their story isn’t your own,” over and over again. Delphine de Vigan, however, makes her character’s stories
If there's one thing this author knows how to do, it is capture hopelessness. I think going into this having no clue what other people thought of it or really anything about the author made for a really exciting experience for me. However, I'm going to spoil something for you. The blurb for this book made me feel a bit optimistic about what could happen:

"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 wr
Mar 03, 2013 Jill rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommended to Jill by: Keertana
This is life in the 21st century: Wake up and hear the noises of the city around you. Heave your body into a train car, squeezing every last inch of yourself into a vacancy. Physically contact several people during your commute; feel utterly alone. Sit at your desk and consider your work. Encounter numerous people throughout the day; connect with none of them. Push your body into the train again; stand mere centimeters from several other human beings. Return home, exhausted by your solitude, mis ...more
Adrian White
Some books change the way you view the world, if only for a short period of time, affecting your outlook and forcing you to question all you see. The everyday becomes remarkable, the mundane becomes extraordinary and a book in which nothing much happens presses your Refresh button and helps you to face the day. Such a book is Underground Time by Delphine de Vigan.

Now, I'm not mad about the title, even if it perfectly describes the book. In the original French, the book is called Les Heures soute
This is about as far as you can get from my normal reading. (And for that, you can thank my profession and my coworker for planning a booktalking program on bleak books. Coming this summer!) I read as stress relief, which for me means exploring new places, getting to know characters that I like, finding meaning, or some combination of those elements. Real life is ambiguous, and hard, and filled with people that can be difficult to like. I live real life every day, and it's nice to leave it from ...more
Ici, pas de batailles héroïques, de héros qui sauvent le monde, d’érudits qui découvrent quelque chose de révolutionnaire. Non, juste deux personnes, une salariée Mathilde et un médecin Thibault, deux âmes vivantes mais écorchée, vidée, acculée par un monde indifférent mais ravageur. C'est incroyable comment l'être humain est à la fois si fragile et si résistant. Mathilde endure toute les pires horreurs, celle des non-dits, des mensonges, de l'hypocrisie, du mépris hiérarchique. Dans le monde ri ...more
Cheryl McNeil
Have you ever had a bad boss? (Wait a minute, isn’t that a stupid question?) The main female character in this novel has a truly horrific one. I mean, REALLY bad. Vindictive like you wouldn’t believe. Except, most of us can, in fact, believe the inexorable, fated decline of a working relationship that, because of its power differential and he-said-she-said trap, is impossible to put the brakes on. You try everything, but there is nothing to be done. There is a nihilism to this novel, something t ...more
Nino Frewat
I can't understand how such a book can be listed for the Goncourt. Its an easy read but in the case of this book it equates to a bland read. Frequently throughout the book, I wondered how is this novel any different from a longform nonfiction writing in a magazine. It almost isn't different. De Vigan is writing about a working woman without any creativity that the books feels like a listing of mishaps and downturns for our protagonist. The literary quality of this book is partially rescued by th ...more
In diesem Buch begegnet man zwei Hauptpersonen, auf der einen Seite erzählt Delphine de Vigan von Mathilde, einer Witwe, die nach dem Tod ihres Mannes alleine für ihre drei Kinder sorgen muss. Mathilde ist Abteilungsleiterin und wird von diesem Beruf ausgefüllt, ihre Arbeit wird anerkannt. Auf der anderen Seite lernen wir Thibaut kennen, ein Arzt, dessen Verstümmelungen an den Händen es ihm verwehrt haben, seinen Traumberuf, Chirurg auszuüben. Diese zwei Einzelschicksale werden von der Autorin a ...more
Dieses Buch ist ein wichtiges Buch. Dieser Roman betrachtet den psychischen Zerfall und den Werdegang zweier mitten im Berufsleben stehenden Menschen, die sich durch einerseits Mobbing und andererseits Burn Out ins soziale Aus katapultieren. Es ist eine Beschreibung, wie mit Hilfe von unmenschlichem Miteinander im Beruf Menschen kaputt gemacht werden können. Mathilde und Thibault sind zwei Protagonisten dieser heutigen Arbeitsgesellschaft, die nach ständiger Leistung heischt und die aufgrund von ...more
I kept putting off reading it because of some of the reviews below, but I shouldn't have: Underground Time is an extraordinarily well-written treatise on the loneliness one feels even when surrounded by people. The language is sparse but beautifully rendered. The city is real and the desperation of the characters is palpable.

Of the two protagonists, Mathilde's story is stronger than Thibault's. The stories don't parallel as closely as I think they were intentioned to and often Thibault comes off
Such a perfect book. The plot is not amazing, but it doesn't matter, and it's better that it isn't. It's a perfectly normal, unremarkable plot of a woman being morally harassed at work; and in a parallel story we see a housecall doctor fatigued with his dreary life. But despite this misery, the book itself is far from miserable. The author accomplishes a heroic feat, really, in succeeding in not depressing the reader despite the topic, while not undermining it either with a disrespectful tone of ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
I almost gave it one star but some of the emotions each character went through swayed me to feel it was okay. This is either an over-rated book or I just don't get it. I admit, the ending is exactly the way the world turns but I kept thinking 'what was the point of this story'? I don't need fantastic endings nor action but there was not a lot to carry the reader. In fact, I could just talk to a friend to hear some of the depressing situations and thoughts in this novel. There are many french nov ...more
Très intéressant, j'adore le concept, mais vraiment trop déprimant... Ne pas lire si parfois vous questionnez la vie!
j'aime énormément sa plume dramatique et ses mises en scène mais la fin m'a paru un peu bâclé et m'a déçue.
J'ai aimé l'écriture, la mélancolie, la tristesse.
Je me reconnais bien dans le quotidien parisien: les transports en commun, le monde du travail.
Gregor Samsa
Dva paralelní příběhy ze současné Paříže. Nedalo se v nich nevidět, nepoznávat; byly o nás – o tom, jak nám naše životy splašeně pádí pryč, bez možnosti je kontrolovat, udávat tempo a směr – naše životy se nám žijí sami, bez nás. Udiveně sledujeme, kam jsme se to vlastně dostali – tohle jsme přeci nikdy nechtěli, říkáme, a někdy si možná dáme závazek něco změnit a jindy doufáme v zázrak, příslib štěstí, osudové znamení. Jenže znamení nejsou, zázraky se nedějí a štěstí je jen náš pocit. Vnitřní p ...more
Sasa Petrasova
It's difficult to describe this book without spoilers but I'll try.
I loved it because it doesn't have a happy end. It is written in a very sober, civil language, which is poetic without being pathetic.
It captures the emotions and thoughts of two people who have lost their faith in life. What first seemed as a place of security, has turned into something exhausting, unbearable and hostile. They have found solace in their work, it helped them overcome a trauma and all of a sudden, it doesn't make
Not what I expected. I loved 'No and Me' but this book was not at all as beautiful to me. It followed two characters having a very bad day and for many many pages I was waiting for them to meet. I wondered what would happen when they did meet and how it would change their attitude to their life/day but I never really got to find out... nothing changed by the end. really a disappointment after 'No and me' was one of my favourite reads of last year.
Jayne Charles
Two separate stories run through this novel - one a highly original and gripping account of a hard-working single mother who finds herself frozen out at work by a vengeful boss , the other a rather nebulous tale about a mobile doctor who has just split up with his girlfriend and is feeling sad about it. Of the two, I much preferred the first, which was quite staggering in its portrayal of office politics at their very worst. The second left me entirely cold. The author includes a lot of musing a ...more
Julie Mestdagh
Na "No et moi" van Delphine De Vigan had ik zin om meer van deze auteur te lezen. Mijn tweede boek werd "Les heures souterraines". En De Vigan stelde niet teleur. Integendeel.

Zij, Mathilde, een alleenstaande moeder van 40 jaar die haar 3 kinderen alleen opvoedt na de dood van haar echtgenoot, sleept zich elke dag naar het werk, waar ze door haar overste en collega's geplaagd, gepest, genegeerd en vergeten wordt. Met geen sociale contacten, geen voldoening en alle verantwoordelijkheden haar ontno
I was looking for something French and poetic, a little European flair for a winter read. This book was depressing. I powered through it thinking the ending would somehow make up for the drudgery I'd endured. Frankly the ending was the worst part. Ugh.
Wow! Just read it. It won't take long but you have to read this book. That's all I have to say.
I think it lost something in translation (and I hate saying that).
Ali Aranda
Great book. But I hated the ending!
Anne Claire
Chaque jour, Mathilde prend la ligne 9, puis la ligne 1, puis le RER D jusqu'au Vert-de-Maisons. Chaque jour, elle effectue les mmes gestes, emprunte les mmes couloirs de correspondance, monte dans les mmes trains. Chaque jour, elle pointe, la mme heure, dans une entreprise o on ne l'attend plus. Car depuis quelques mois, sans que rien n'ait t dit, sans raison objective, Mathilde n'a plus rien faire. Alors, elle laisse couler les heures. Ces heures dont elle ne parle pas, qu'elle cache ses am ...more
3,5 Sterne

Nachdem mich die anderen beiden Bücher von Delphine de Vigan, "No und ich" und "Das Lächeln meiner Mutter", absolut begeistert hatten, war es nun an der Zeit, auch diesen Roman zu lesen. Und leider muss ich sagen: Dieses Mal hat die Chemie zwischen mir und dem Buch nicht so ganz gestimmt. Auch dieser Roman ist vom Stil her klasse, sensibel und doch treffsicher erzählt. Und die Themen - Mobbing, Trennung, Erschöpfung - wurden auch sehr gut umgesetzt. Vielleicht sogar zu gut für mich? Ic
I really wanted to like this book but I couldn’t bring myself to rate it any more than two stars in the end. Sure, it was ok but in terms of ‘liking it’ I can’t really say that I did because it didn’t leave me totally satisfied.

The plot of the book deals with life, work, satisfaction and the state of feeling that one is not really in control of things. Maybe it serves as a tribute to the ‘modern way’ and much of the personal interpretation of the book comes more from what is left unsaid than wh

Wir lernen Mathilde kennen, die durch eine kleine Meinungsäußerung schon bald den alten Kabuff neben den Toiletten ihr Büro nennen darf. Wir lernen Thibault kennen, der als freier Arzt arbeitet, aber kein freier Mann ist – er liebt bis zum Äußersten, dennoch ist ihm eine Gegenliebe nicht vergönnt.


De Vigan hat so einfache Erkenntnisse, dass es an vielen Stellen weh tat, ihre einfache Logik wahrzunehmen und zu verstehen. Sie sagt einem einfach, wie es ist, wenn man nicht
Mathilde, cadre dynamique dans une grande boîte, voit peu à peu sa brillante vie professionnelle se muter en cauchemar, à partir du jour où son chef la prend en grippe. Menace déguisée, harcèlement et dénigrement minent peu à peu la jeune femme dont le timide équilibre ne tient plus qu'à un fil. De son côté, Thibault est un médecin un peu paumé qui navigue de patient en patient, de maladies en désespoir alors que lui même peine à retrouver goût à la vie. C'est l'histoire d'une ville qui ingurgit ...more
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Delphine de Vigan is French and lives in Paris. She has published several novels for adults. No and Me was awarded the Prix des Libraires 2008 (The Booksellers' Prize) in France.
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“Emporté par le flot dense et désordonné, il a pensé que la ville toujours imposerait sa cadence, son empressement et ses heures d’affluence, qu’elle continuerait d’ignorer ces millions de trajectoires solitaires, à l’intersection desquelles il n’y a rien, rien d’autre que le vide ou bien une étincelle, aussitôt dissipée.” 2 likes
“Philippe est sa part manquante, un membre amputé dont elle garde la sensation précise.” 0 likes
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