The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Overview - The international bestseller that has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a moving, funny, atmospheric novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us. We are in an elegant hotel particulier in the center of Paris. Read more...
DownloadThis item is available only to U.S. billing addresses.
More About The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery; Alison Anderson
The international bestseller that has sold over 10 million copies worldwide. The Elegance of the Hedgehog
is a moving, funny, atmospheric novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.
We are in an elegant hotel particulier in the center of Paris. Renee, the building's concierge, is short, ugly, and plump. She has bunions on her feet. She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood. But Renee has a secret: she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants--her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth.
Then there's Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor. Talented, precocious, and startingly lucid, she has come to terms with life's seeming futility and has decided to end her own on the day of her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.
Paloma and Renee 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 Renee's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her.
- ISBN-13: 9781933372600
- ISBN-10: 1933372605
- Publisher: Europa Editions
- Publish Date: September 2008
- Page Count: 325
- Reading Level: Ages 18-UP
- Dimensions: 8.24 x 5.34 x 1.05 inches
- Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds
Books > Fiction > Literary
Publishers Weekly Reviews
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in:
- Review Date:
This dark but redemptive novel, an international bestseller, marks the debut in English of Normandy philosophy professor Barbery. Renée Michel, 54 and widowed, is the stolid concierge in an elegant Paris hôtel particulier. Though “short, ugly, and plump,” Renée has, as she says, “always been poor,” but she has a secret: she's a ferocious autodidact who's better versed in literature and the arts than any of the building's snobby residents. Meanwhile, “supersmart” 12-year-old Paloma Josse, who switches off narration with Renée, lives in the building with her wealthy, liberal family. Having grasped life's futility early on, Paloma plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday. The arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu, who befriends both the young pessimist and the concierge alike, sets up their possible transformations. By turns very funny (particularly in Paloma's sections) and heartbreaking, Barbery never allows either of her dour narrators to get too cerebral or too sentimental. Her simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts. (Sept.)