Gift Guide

Underground Time


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 ...

See more details below
$12.79 price
(Save 20%)$16.00 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (24) from $1.99   
  • New (7) from $1.99   
  • Used (17) from $1.99   
Underground Time: A Novel

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 7.0
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK 10.1
  • NOOK HD Tablet
  • NOOK HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK eReaders
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.49 price
(Save 11%)$12.99 List Price


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?

Delphine de Vigan tells this story of urban isolation with poetic precision and resilient humor, in the much lauded follow-up to her bestselling No and Me.

Praise for No and Me:

"Thought-provoking and often poetic musings about No's life challenge readers to rethink their responsibilities to humankind…Quiet yet gripping."-Kirkus Reviews

"All ages will find much to relish in this deceptively simple tale that is touching and enlightening." -Herald (Scotland)

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
De Vigan (No and Me) pursues two doomed characters in their Parisian isolation with her second novel, but treats them with more coldness than empathy. When a clairvoyant predicts that her life will change “on the twentieth of May,” Mathilde, once her boss’s right-hand woman, is steadily relieved of her responsibilities and ostracized at work after having what she thought was a polite disagreement in a business meeting. While Mathilde desperately hopes for an explanation for this banishment, she stubbornly clings to the job that supports her and her three children. Meanwhile, young EMT Thibault contemplates the emptiness of his life as he drives his emergency medical rounds. Thibault separated from his latest girlfriend because he felt no connection to her and left a thriving country practice (losing his dream of becoming a surgeon), but now questions why he wanted to come to Paris in the first place. De Vigan moves these two lost souls around their métro, boulot, dodo days, from arrondissements to numbing office corridors, as they lose themselves further and further in moody self-reflection, a tenor that de Vigan holds but doesn’t escalate, until a vague conclusion confirms that her characters are more philosophical construct than flesh and blood. (Dec.)
From the Publisher
Elle Reader's Prize Pick

"De Vigan keeps you going with lovely language... The book isn't just about these two strangers and what they have in common, it is about what all of us have in common, strangers or not." - Courtnay Glatter, Bust

"De Vigan's lucid take on the fragility of our purchase on happiness and the frenzied madness of our cities clearly comes through in this bracingly acerbic novel." - Kathryn Lang, Minneapolis Star Tribune

"[An] elegantly constructed, sympathetic, compelling, enjoyable novel." - Nicola Barr, Guardian

"De Vigan has beautifully captured the behind-the-scenes agendas of personal and professional lives... an engrossing, well-paced story that takes us into a world most of us know but rarely discuss." - Carol Gladstein, Booklist

"Delphine de Vigan's novel Underground Time reveals the psychological working conditions endured by 21st century corporate middle management employees and the loneliness, isolation, and anonymity of contemporary urban life in much the same way that Upton Sinclair's The Jungle exposed the hazardous working conditions of slaughterhouse workers and Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie portrayed sexual exploitation in urban life a century ago." - David Cooper, New York Journal of Books

Library Journal
Mathilde and Thibault, strangers to each other, experience deep misery as they navigate the soul-sucking crush of daily life in Paris. After a long run as a talented marketing executive, Mathilde, a 40-year-old widow with three young sons, is systematically being destroyed by her boss (and former mentor), whose bullying escalates as the weeks go by. Thibault, a traveling paramedic who has just dumped his emotionless lover, finds no solace as he battles traffic congestion to visit the homes of invisible citizens who have fallen off society's radar. De Vigan's gift for unvarnished and beautifully described angst builds unbearably as the two characters cling to hope and sanity, believing that their salvation can only come in the form of a perfect lover. VERDICT De Vigan romanticizes absolutely nothing in this sharply observed study of the suffocating trap of urban hopelessness. She shows no mercy to her readers, who will find themselves gritting their teeth and hoping that Mathilde's and Thibault's bottomless suffering will be cured by the too-oft-used magical meet-up and happy ending. Instead, this masterly author, winner of France's 2008 Prix des Libraires for No and Me, throws a curveball that all sophisticated readers will want to catch. [See Prepub Alert, 5/23/11.]—Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI
Kirkus Reviews
A prizewinner and bestseller in France, de Vigan (No and Me, 2010, etc.) is a master of the spare (and of despair) in this brief novel about two unhappy Parisians who may or may not be destined to meet. The novel takes place during a single day, May 20, when a psychic has told widowed mother of three Mathilde that she will meet a man. Although her corporate job has become a nightmare since her supervisor Jacques turned against her months earlier after she mildly disagreed with him in front of others, Mathilde starts the day excited that something new is going to happen. She even laughs with her children, a moment that becomes more poignant in memory as her day falls apart. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Paris, Thibault, who has given up a safe suburban GP practice to be a traveling emergency doctor (his job does not quite translate in the U.S.), starts the day by breaking up with his unloving girlfriend, then makes his medical service calls in a mood that swings between rage and despair. When a woman falls at the metro station Mathilde helps her. Thibault is called but arrives just after Mathilde has left. Late getting to work, Mathilde discovers Jacques has moved her out of her office into a humiliating spot near the men's room and has stripped her of all of her responsibilities. She and Jacques both know she cannot be fired, but he continues to ratchet up his campaign to make her work life increasingly miserable to the point of unbearable. As Mathilde wanders through the Kafkaesque corporate labyrinth, trying to find an escape from Jacque's reach, Thibault drives the city streets overwhelmed by an exhausting caseload of patients whose lives have shriveled into hopelessness. Will these two ever meet? You'll have to read the book to find out. This is ultimately a corporate horror story--often claustrophobic to the point of oppressive, but undeniably disturbing.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781608197125
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 11/22/2011
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 5.58 (w) x 8.42 (h) x 0.76 (d)

Meet the Author

Delphine de Vigan is the author of No and Me, which was a bestseller in France and was awarded the Prix des Libraires (The Booksellers' Prize) in 2008. Her other novels include Jolis Garçons and Soir de décembre. Underground Time was shortlisted for the 2009 Goncourt.

George Miller is the translator of No and Me. He is also a regular translator for Le Monde diplomatique's English-language edition, and the translator of Conversations with my Gardener by Henri Cueco and Inside Al-Qaeda by Mohammed Sifaoui.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)