Friday 56 & #BookBeginnings: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

"Marx has completely changed the way I view the world," declared the Pallieres boy this morning, although ordinarily he says nary a word to me.
- p. 17

For Friday 56:  
Profound Thought No. 3
The strong ones 
Among humans
Do nothing
They talk
And talk again
- p. 56

About The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.

Then there's Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.

Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.



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7 comments

  1. Great quotes! They really make me want to read the book.

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  2. A friend recommended this book to me, but I haven't read it yet. Sounds fascinating!
    My Friday post features THE TIGER QUEENS.

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  3. I have been curious about this book since I first heard about it. Thanks for sharing...and here's mine: “WINTER STREET”

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  4. Read this with my book club a year or so ago. It was an ok read for me.

    I hope you enjoy it.

    Have a great weekend.

    Elizabeth
    Silver's Reviews
    My Book Beginnings

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  5. This sounds interesting! I definitely am intrigued by the premise and the setting!

    ReplyDelete

© guiltless readingMaira Gall