The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

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We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renee, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renee is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence. Then there's Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent 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
  • 23,173

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 international bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and Gourmet Rhapsody (Europa Editions, 2009).show more

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