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The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery


I think I bought this book based solely on the title. Here is the blurb …

Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building on the Left Bank. To the residents she is honest, reliable and uncultivated – an ideal concierge. But Renee has a secret. Beneath this conventional facade she is passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her self-important employers.

Down in her lodge, Renee is resigned to living a lie; meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid a predictably bourgeois future, and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday.

But the death of one of their privileged neighbours will bring dramatic change to number 7, Rue de Grenelle, altering the course of both their lives forever.

By turn moving and hilarious, this unusual and insightful novel is now an international publishing sensation, with sales of over 2.5 million copies.

I found this novel to be quite difficult to read and very slow going. It required concentration, which is in short supply in December in a house with two small children. I had to force myself to read it rather than move onto something easier.

It was a slow moving novel – the neighbour (mentioned in the blurb) doesn’t die until half way through, so that’s a lot of scene setting. Having said that I did enjoy it (except the ending – but I won’t ruin it for anyone). This is a book that should be read slowly and savoured. Not read like I did between Christmas shopping and watching swimming lessons.

Here are more thoughtful reviews …




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