The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Hardback

By (author) Muriel Barbery, Translated by Alison Anderson

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  • Publisher: Gallic Books
  • Format: Hardback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 136mm x 218mm x 22mm | 458g
  • Publication date: 1 September 2008
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1906040168
  • ISBN 13: 9781906040161
  • Sales rank: 465,585

Product description

Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society's expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Renee: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renee lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. By turn moving and hilarious, this unusual novel became the top-selling book in France in 2007 with sales of over 900,000 copies to-date.

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Review quote

?The formula that made more than half a million readers in France fall in love with this book has, among other ingredients: intelligent humor, fine sentiments, an excellent literary and philosophical backdrop, good taste, sophistication and substance.??"La Repubblica" ?Enthusiastically recommended for anyone who loves books that grow quietly and then blossom suddenly.??"Marie Claire" (France) ?An exquisite book in the form of a philosophical fable that has enchanted hundreds of thousands of readers.??"Elle" (Italy) ?Nobody ever imagined that this tender, funny book with a philosophical vein would have enjoyed such incredible success. For some, it is part "Sophie's World" by Jostein Gaarder, part "Monsieur Malaussene" by Daniel Pennac. While for others it resembles a written version of the film Amelie. Either way, readers are responding in vast numbers.??"Le Monde"

Editorial reviews

The second novel (but first to be published in the United States) from France-based author Barbery teaches philosophical lessons by shrewdly exposing rich secret lives hidden beneath conventional exteriors.Renee Michel has been the concierge at an apartment building in Paris for 27 years. Uneducated, widowed, ugly, short and plump, she looks like any other French apartment-house janitor, but Mme Michel is by no means what she seems. A "proletarian autodidact," she has broad cultural appetites - for the writings of Marx and Kant, the novels of Tolstoy, the films of Ozu and Wenders. She ponders philosophical questions and holds scathing opinions about some of the wealthy tenants of the apartments she maintains, but she is careful to keep her intelligence concealed, having learned from her sister's experience the dangers of using her mind in defiance of her class. Similarly, 12-year-old Paloma Josse, daughter of one of the well-connected tenant families, shields her erudition, philosophical inclinations, criticism - and also her dreams of suicide. But when a new Japanese tenant, Kakuro Ozu, moves in, everything changes for both females. He detects their intelligence and invites them into his cultured life. Curious and deeply fulfilling friendships blossom among the three, offering Paloma and Renee freedom from the mental prisons confining them.With its refined taste and political perspective, this is an elegant, light-spirited and very European adult fable. (Kirkus Reviews)