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The Elegance of the Hedgehog Paperback – Sep 2 2008
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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
INDIEBOUND TOP TEN BESTSELLER
A WASHINGTON POST BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR
Praise for The Elegance of the Hedgehog
"Gently satirical, exceptionally winning and inevitably bitersweet."
—Michael Dirda, The Washington Post
"The Elegance of the Hedgehog is about love. But not the sappy, head-over-heels variety. Rather, it's about the love of one's friends. It's about the love you can experience when you connect with strangers. And it's about the possibility—but just that—of romantic love."—The Huffington Post
"Both [of the book's protagonists] create eloquent little essays on time, beauty and the meaning of life, Renée with the erudition and Paloma with adolescent brio."—The New York Times
"This fable of love, frienship and the beauty of art not only gives innocence a voice, but also shows what a powerful novel can do: transport, educate and, ultimately, console."—The Toronto Star
"The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a high-wire performance."—Los Angeles Times
"Hedgehog is really an international book, focused as it is on universal topics of childhood, philosophy, love, and art."—The Daily Beast
"This story, like all great tales, will break your heart, but it will also make you realize—or remember—that sometimes the pain is worth it."—Chicago Sun-Times
About the Author
Muriel Barbery is the author of the international bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and Gourmet Rhapsody (Europa Editions, 2009).See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The main narrator of this book is Madame Renee Michel, a fifty-four year old widow who has worked for twenty-seven years as head concierge of a posh Parisian apartment building on 7, rue de Grenville. The inhabitants all belong to the upper class. Renee grew up poor and quit school at the age of twelve years old. Throughout her life she has studied philosophy secretly, always searching for knowledge. She has read Marx, appreciated Mozart, Dutch painting, Japanese culture, but most of all she loves literature. She lives alone with her cat Leo, named after Tolstoy. Renee is an unattractive woman. She is short, plump and has bunions on her feet. She is self-taught and believes that she is intellectually smarter than the residents. She is grateful for her job, but she keeps her intellectual side a secret. She lets them think she is simple and the perfect concierge, someone who lies around watching TV all day and blending into the background. But in reality, she spends her time reading, watching films and listening to music.
Paloma Josse is twelve years old and lives in the apartment building with her wealthy parents and sister. Her mother has a Ph.D in literature and is a social snob. Her father is a senior Government official. Her sister is studying for her Master's degree at the Sorbonne. Paloma receives no attention or love from her parents because they're too busy with their own lives, which leaves her lonely and unhappy. Paloma has a secret too.Read more ›
Just a brief summary, as described by both main characters -Renée and Paloma - introducing themselves in the beginning of the book, which is written in a diary form by each.
Paris, present day. Renée is the widowed concierge of an elegant building in an exclusive area. Its inhabitants all belong to the upper class. She is, by her own admission, dowdy, unattractive, often grumpy and wants everybody to believe that she is the stereotype of all concierges, blending into the background, almost featureless. But Renée has a well-kept secret: she is an extremely cultured autodidact. She loves art, philosophy, literature, music. Aestheticism and beauty in all of its forms fascinate her. Renée keeps concealing this aspect of her life to the outside world, hiding behind the concierge's screen -literal and metaphorical-.
Paloma is a twelve-year-old who lives in the building with her rich family. She is distractedly well-loved by her parents and does not get along with her older sister. Paloma is an extremely bright, clear-headed, lucid child. She is so lucid it is uncomfortable -yet to the reader she also conveys tenderness, and her wittiness is remarkable- .Read more ›
“an understated form of beauty, a quality of refinement masked by rustic simplicity
“The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” is not a plot driven novel, instead it is part character study and part philosophical fiction on how we perceive the world. Primarily it is about learning to see beauty in everything and there is an incredible abundance of beauty within these pages. It is also about moving beyond oneself to a greater engagement with life.
An uplifting read that insists that “it is not all bad.”
Most recent customer reviews
I did not enjoy this book. I couldn't get into it and stopped about half way through.Published 3 months ago by Kathleen Ferris
This book came highly recommended but I didn't get it. what was the message . Life is a drag? Life is a bore? The characters were a bit confusing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by rusty
I just finished this book - it's delightful! Funny, sweet, very intelligent and....tasteful, although I wouldn't usually describe the fiction book this way. I loved it!Published 5 months ago by Inna Sokolova
Over written, hard to follow. Did not enjoy the plot or lack of plots. Read this book for book club and all 7 members would not recommend as a good readPublished 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
Came within promised delays and the condtion was exactly as advertised. I would definitely buy from this vendor again.Published 20 months ago by sd