The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

3.73 (116,396 ratings by Goodreads)
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A New York Times Bestseller 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. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among more

Product details

  • Paperback | 325 pages
  • 134.62 x 208.28 x 30.48mm | 408.23g
  • Europa Editions
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 1933372605
  • 9781933372600
  • 36,665

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"show more

About Muriel Barbery

Muriel Barbery is the author of the New York Times bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Europa, 2008), and Gourmet Rhapsody (Europa, 2009). She has lived in Kyoto, Amsterdam and now lives in the French countryside. Alison Anderson's translations for Europa Editions include novels by Selim Nassib, Amelie Nothomb, and Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt. She is the translator of The Elegance of the Hedgehog (Europa, 2008) and The Life of the Elves (Europa, 2016) by Muriel more

Rating details

116,396 ratings
3.73 out of 5 stars
5 30% (35,207)
4 33% (38,599)
3 22% (25,090)
2 10% (11,089)
1 6% (6,411)

Our customer reviews

This book is a story about a self-conscious concierge and an introspective, suicidal 12 year old. I understand what this book was trying to be... beautiful and sophisticated. Something that read like a song and instilled deep, meaningful reactions from the reader - but it wasn't. It was BORING. The whole book just reeked of academic snobbery. Parts of the book prattled on so much that I'd just speed read the whole chapter. I got so bored with it I stopped half way through so I could take a break on another book before finishing this off. I felt the book used knowledge of Tolstoy as a scale of determining someone's value. Yes, parts of the book were lovely. I liked a few of the ideas it brought forward, and I liked the sence of magic. Yes, there were some sentences worthy of placing on a poster. However mostly, I just wanted to finish more
by Caitlin
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