The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Book rating: 04 Paperback

By (author) Muriel Barbery, Translated by Alison Anderson

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  • Publisher: Gallic Books
  • Format: Paperback | 320 pages
  • Dimensions: 128mm x 202mm x 26mm | 320g
  • Publication date: 1 May 2009
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1906040184
  • ISBN 13: 9781906040185
  • Sales rank: 25

Product description

Rene is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building. She maintains a carefully constructed persona as someone uncultivated but reliable, in keeping with what she feels a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Rene: 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, Rene lives 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 turns moving and hilarious, this unusual novel became the top-selling book in France in 2007.

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Customer reviews

By Beverley Coleman 11 Nov 2011 5

What a beautiful metaphor (once revealed) in the title. Exquisitely crafted with such beautiful language. Unusual and interesting characters, and a slap-in-the-face ending. Though completely enjoyable and such a worthwhile read, I would have liked to see the three main characters' relationship evolve and deepen. I was inspired by the concierge's knowledge and sensitivity towards others; her insight and judgements was thought-provoking. Love the Japanese gentleman's awareness of and value of all human beings. And that young girl? What an awesome character who might, at first, come across as too sophisticated for her age.

Because the language is so rich, and in the beginning, seems quite verbose, it is a novel that I'd recommend to persevere as it's richness unfolds. This book goes into my "Favourites" list.

By Paul McGeown 19 Aug 2011 1

I was totally drawn into this book, loved the style and the theme, it was such a delightful French novel and covered great swathes of philosophy and social commentary.
However the ending was such a slap in the face that I felt it detracted from the novel, it was so out of left field. I cant say too much more because I dont want any spoilers, but the ending left me feeling ripped off and manipulated. Or I felt the author was on a time line and had to finish the book that weekend.
Many of my favourite books do not have neat happy endings so its not that that I have a problem with, its more the fact the ending was like a shock tactic in an otherwise gentle and well observed novel.

By Hilary Bishop 04 Aug 2011 5

This book is entertaining, informative and truly delightful! A little different from the normal story and the ending was a surprise, I would highly recommend this book for anyone wishing to have an enjoyable, well written book to sit and read!

By lochaber 19 Jul 2011 5

I've read this book and loved it.
I've seen the film and loved it.
But I believe that the author dislikes the film intensely. I can't understand why - the film is as absorbing and subtle as the book.
Has anyone any idea why the author doesn't like the film?

By Jamie F 11 Jul 2011 2

I personally did not like this book. I usually judge my books by the '30 page rule' but decided to keep going with this book. By 130 I found myself bored and not looking forward to reading it so gave up.
I am usually into fast paced romance, historical or thriller type books so perhaps it just wasn't my style.
The book was written beautifully, but I found myself often turning to the dictionary - perhaps as I am young, or maybe I just have a terrible vocabulary.