Tuesday, March 05, 2013

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Author: Muriel Barbery
Source: Ali's book club choice
Days to read: 8

Now this was a challenging book but well worth a read. It is evident that the author, Muriel Barbery is familiar with Philosophy!

The book has two different voices. The first is a middle-aged concierge named Renée who suppresses her intellect and interests in order to fit into the stereotype of a simple, lazy and uneducated concierge. The second voice is Paloma, a 12-year-old genius who is irritated by everything and everyone in the world until she meets Renée. When the new Japanese tenant Ozu moves into the prestigious building, both Renee and Paloma are intrigued to find another individual they consider an equal.  Through joint interests and enjoying each other’s company, Paloma is finally able to see some good in the world and Renee’s spirit is awakened by her new friend Ozu who sees and knows her for the person she is.

We had a really good discussion about this book at our last meeting and the majority of us really enjoyed the book. Both characters hide their true thoughts and feelings and essence of who they are to the outside world. Fortunately, Paloma is young and is able to learn from Renee and appreciate things in life.

There was some disagreement regarding the end of the book. Some people were left sad and disappointed while others felt it came full circle and were satisfied. I hover somewhere in between these opinions. Without giving too much away, a traumatic event occurs that does evoke sad feelings however I felt that this event was only the closing to a bigger story and that lessons were learned and new and wonderful experiences were had and recognized.

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