The Elegance of the Hedgehog

by Muriel Barbery | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: Global Overview for this book
Registered by cluricaune of Belfast, Co. Antrim United Kingdom on 7/12/2019
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5 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by cluricaune from Belfast, Co. Antrim United Kingdom on Friday, July 12, 2019
Muriel Barbery was born in Casablanca in 1969. A former philosophy teacher, her first novel ("Une Gourmandise") was published in 2000 - appearing in English as "Gourmet Rhapsody" in 2009. "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" was its follow-up and was published France as "L'Élégance du Hérisson" in 2006. Both books are set in a very exclusive apartment building on Rue de Grenelle in the famous Left Bank district of Paris. Where "Gourmet Rhapsody" had one lead character, Pierre Arthens, "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" follows two people - Renée Michel and Paloma Josse.

Renée is a fifty-four year old widow and lives alone with her cat. She has been the concierge at 7 Rue de Grenelle for twenty-seven years, and is well aware of how a concierge is viewed. As such, she ensures the building's residents see only what they would expect - she prepares very basic food and pretends to watch low-brow television shows. However, while Renée has little in the way of a formal education, the image couldn't be further from the truth. Renée eats well, as the cr@p food is fed to the cat - who is named Leo in Tolstoy's honour. While the tv is constantly on, Renée is generally sitting in a different room reading or listening to something a great deal more refined. (The sound of the tv is for the benefit of passing ears in the hallway). She also adores Dutch art and is a fan of Japanese art-house movies. Sadly, Renée only has a single friend, Manuela - a Portuguese immigrant who cleans for the building's rich inhabitants. Manuela dreams of one day being able to return to Faro - it's a day that Renée herself dreads.

Paloma, meanwhile, is twelve years old and lives on the fifth floor with her family. High intelligence is clearly a family trait - Paloma's father is a Member of Parliament, while her mother holds a PhD in Literature. Her sister, the irritating Colombe, is studying philosophy at an École Normale Supérieure. Paloma, however, can't face a long life, believing it to be meaningless, and has decided to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday. Until that point, she's going to keep a couple of diaries - one containing a series of profound thoughts and another devoted to the beauty of movement.

The book jumps back and forward between the two characters, with each telling their own story - although more of the book focuses on Renée. (Renée uses one font and Paloma uses another - it means, straight away, you know who's story you're reading...it's a very helpful technique, given how similarly the pair think certain topics). The pair have so much in common, you know it's only a matter of time before they meet properly and become friends. (I was surprised at how long it took though - and how much the apartment building needed to be shaken up for that to actually happen).

More of the book is actually spent with Renée : although very intelligent, she has a very low sense of self-worth - but is still a likeable character. Paloma was clearly a very intelligent and quite witty girl - but sometimes I got the impression she was a little pretentious and full of herself. (She's an intellectual who "makes fun of other intellectuals" - yet will still trot out the occasional cliché). I wasn't always convinced she intended to go through with her suicidal plan either. (However, she's only a couple of months short of thirteen : perfect time for being a little over-dramatic, eh ?) Still, she is very quotable - full of funny (and quite acidic) observations about the world around her - and, deep down, seems to have a good heart. An excellent book, totally recommended.

Journal Entry 2 by cluricaune at -Paris 1er, Ile-de-France France on Saturday, July 13, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (7/12/2019 UTC) at -Paris 1er, Ile-de-France France

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Passed to Nicolasc

Journal Entry 3 by nicolasc at -Paris 1er, Ile-de-France France on Saturday, July 13, 2019
Caught in Paris.

Absolutely loved this book. Can't begin to tell you how many times I stopped just to savor a passage. Highly recommended.

Journal Entry 4 by nicolasc at The Drink Doctor in -Paris 1er, Ile-de-France France on Saturday, July 13, 2019

Released 1 yr ago (7/12/2019 UTC) at The Drink Doctor in -Paris 1er, Ile-de-France France

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Shelf on the terrasse.

Journal Entry 5 by wingjax987654321wing at -Paris 1er, Ile-de-France France on Monday, July 15, 2019
I took 4 books on holiday with me, with several long coach journeys planned. I have already read 1 and will finish the second today, on day 2 and now I am worried I might run out. Not of course that I don't have my ebook with me and several audios on my phone, however they aren't the same. So glad to see an interesting title in English on the shelf.

Journal Entry 6 by wingjax987654321wing at Ealing, Greater London United Kingdom on Wednesday, August 28, 2019
I found this a slow burner, however it had good insights into both French and Japanese culture and I enjoyed it in the end. I was not expecting the ending!

Released 12 mos ago (11/3/2019 UTC) at -- Somewhere in London in Greater London, Greater London United Kingdom

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released at London meet up

Journal Entry 8 by wingrahar109wing at Ash Vale, Surrey United Kingdom on Sunday, November 03, 2019
Left over after the meet. For re-releasing.

Journal Entry 9 by wingrahar109wing at Ash Vale, Surrey United Kingdom on Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Released 1 mo ago (9/22/2020 UTC) at Ash Vale, Surrey United Kingdom

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Sent to riffraff71 for her new Bookcrossing Zone.

Journal Entry 10 by riffraff71 at Turriff , Scotland United Kingdom on Saturday, September 26, 2020
Received for my new bookcrossing zone, thank you :)

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