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The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel…
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The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2006)

by Muriel Barbery

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Rue de Grenelle (2)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
8,226536381 (3.8)2 / 836
  1. 151
    The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa (labfs39, chrisharpe)
    labfs39: Both have incredibly well-drawn, quirky characters that are lovable in their unique humaness. Both have highly intelligent characters that are vulnerable because of their very gift. In both books I learned things in fields not particularly close to me: math in Housekeeper and philosophy in Elegance.… (more)
  2. 63
    The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley (lauranav)
    lauranav: Both show relationships and point of view of a young girl.
  3. 30
    A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé (morsecode)
    morsecode: The English-language editions (published by Europa Editions) of both novels are translated by Alison Andersen. There isn't a lot of similarity between the two novels (beyond the fact that both are quite literary), but I do think that someone who enjoys one will enjoy the other.… (more)
  4. 53
    Major Pettigrew's Last Stand by Helen Simonson (cransell)
  5. 10
    The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen (heterotopic)
  6. 10
    The Last Samurai by Helen DeWitt (camillahoel)
  7. 10
    The Seven Fires of Mademoiselle by Esther Vilar (sanddancer)
  8. 10
    Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl (krist_ellis, tinyteaspoon)
    tinyteaspoon: Strong young female protagonist
  9. 00
    Lovesong by Alex Miller (jll1976)
    jll1976: There is the obvious 'Paris connection'. But, also a similar slow almost dreamlike quality. About the beauty of a 'simple' life.
  10. 00
    The Cleaner of Chartres by Salley Vickers (klerulo)
    klerulo: Not so much the commonality of a French setting but that of a very enigmatic, obscure heroine who attracts the attention of others who are discerning and sensitive enough to perceive the hidden depths.
  11. 01
    Chocolat by Joanne Harris (hildretha)
  12. 15
    Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami (tandah)
  13. 16
    The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco (albavirtual)
    albavirtual: Una historia oscura e intrigante y, al mismo tiempo, llena de profundas reflexiones sobre la risa, el arte y la libertad del hombre.
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English (434)  Spanish (28)  French (25)  Italian (23)  German (10)  Finnish (7)  Dutch (5)  Swedish (5)  Catalan (4)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (542)
Showing 1-5 of 434 (next | show all)
Review:The Elegance Of The Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. I thought the writing of the book was good but it took some time understanding the style and context the story was reveling towards. I think what was unsettling to me was there wasn’t really a full developed plot. I finally caught on that it was more character driven then plot. I think the highlight of the story advanced when Kakuro Ozu was introduced into the storey. A few of the chapters were keen on philosophy so I needed to slowly ponder what the author was emphasizing to get her point across. The story takes the reader into a world of French intellectualism in the appearance of two main characters, fifty-four-year old named Renee, a concierge of an upscale apartment building who felt she was upper-class compared to other tenants within the building. Plus, the other main character was a twelve-year-old girl named Paloma who was a bit strange but very intelligent who had made a pact with herself that on the day she turns thirteen she was going to commit suicide. She spends most of her time filling her diary with observations of her life and family. At first Renee and Paloma had no correspondence between them until later in the book. The story went back and forth between chapters with these two characters narrating information about themselves, and their environment around them. The two narrators were both observers, with hidden judgments of their societies but both felt superior to the other and absolutely each had brilliant minds, because the double-standards of these two characters is revealed to the reader before it is revealed to them. It was interesting reading their thoughts, issues, situations because it filled in what type of character they were. It did take some time before these two crossed paths. They say opposites attract and I do think this is what brought them together. Their curiosity got the better of them and it took some time for each of them to figure each other out. Some of the narrating going on was boring but most parts kept me wondering who was going to make changes to their thoughts and behavior to figure out the philosophy concept between them. When Kakuro Ozu, an elderly Japanese man, came into the story he befriended both Renee and Paloma. In time he managed to bring thought-provoking material to the lives of these two people. He brings life into the story by dating Renee and being a caring adult in the life of Paloma….The ending did surprised me but after thinking about it… the ending was justified…. ( )
  Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
I was wondering throughout the book: 'Hm, this seems familiar. Have I read this before' to realise in the end I have indeed read this book before. It didn't stuck to me so vividly for me to remember it but I had again a nice time in the company of Mr. Ozu, Renée and Paloma. Oddly enough the side characters (upper class French) were the most fascinating. A book to keep but probably not to read again.
*Signed copy ( )
  Lysann | May 31, 2016 |
The Elegance of the Hedgehog- Muriel Barbery
3 stars
This is a very interesting little book. It is probably the most character driven book I’ve ever read. Essentially, there is no plot. The story is told in two voices: Renee, the middle-aged concierge of an exclusive Paris apartment building and Paloma, a 12-year-old genius. Both Renee and Paloma are hiding their true personalities from the world around them. The book is nothing more than the observations
and opinions of these two self-proclaimed misfits. But they are not talking to each other. Paloma is recording her thoughts in a journal and Renee is talking directly to the reader. While protecting themselves from the scrutiny of others these two characters create a picture of the inhabitants of the apartment building. Both characters feel free to expound on such topics as art, music and philosophy. The two narratives begin to overlap with the introduction of a new tenant to the building, a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu.
This is not a book for an action lover. At some points the private ruminations of Renee and Paloma begin to become a bit tedious. However, it does have some warm and humorous moments, and these were enough to allow me to put up with digressions into philosophy.
( )
  msjudy | May 30, 2016 |
I read this book after I'd seen the movie. I loved this book so much I bought it (and the movie) for a friend for her birthday. A hotel concierge and autodidact hiding in plain sight might not seem like the start of a fascinating tale, but assuming that would be a mistake. There is so much happening in this book. The lives of three people intersect and the result is wonderful. I was a bit disappointed with the ending. After having done some research, I understand the ending a bit more now. ( )
1 vote OzzieJello | May 12, 2016 |
A moving, sometimes witty novel of life in an apartment building in Paris and the residents who,in their secret lonely world live there.
A fairy tale of a story.
I was given a digital copy of this book by the publisher Gallic Books via Netgalley in return for an honest unbiased review. ( )
  Welsh_eileen2 | Apr 26, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 434 (next | show all)
Barbery’s sly wit, which bestows lightness on the most ponderous cogitations, keeps her tale aloft.
added by Nickelini | editthe New Yorker (Oct 20, 2008)
 
Le Figaro has described this book as 'the publishing phenomenon of the decade'. Elsewhere, there were comparisons to Proust. It sold more than a million copies in France last year and has won numerous awards. Does it match up to the hype? Almost. It is a profound but accessible book (not quite Proust, then), which elegantly treads the line between literary and commercial fiction.
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, Vicky Groskop (Sep 14, 2008)
 
Even when the novel is most essayistic, the narrators’ kinetic minds and engaging voices... propel us ahead.
 
Efter en något trög första del, förvandlades Igelkottens elegans till en liten pärla, till en bok som berörde mig. Och jag som sällan läser om böcker, funderar skarpt på att läsa om.
 
Därefter blir ”Igelkottens elegans” en fråga om ett ganska enkelt demaskerande och en ännu enklare trivialpsykologisk analys. Men fram till dess skrockar man förnöjt när Renée och Paloma var och en på sitt håll övertrumfar varandra i knivskarpa beskrivningar av den korkade och obildade parisiska överklassen och dess själsliv – tunt som en kålsoppa utan kål.
 

» Add other authors (49 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Muriel Barberyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Öjerskog, MarianneTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Anderson, AlisonTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Enqvist, HelénTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Dedication
For Stephane, with whom I wrote this book
First words
"Marx has completely changed the way I view the world," declared the Pallieres boy this morning, although ordinarily he says nary a word to me.
Quotations
Thus, the television in the front room, guardian of my clandestine activities, could bleat away and I was no longer forced to listen to inane nonsense fit for the brain of a clam - I was in the back room, perfectly euphoric, my eyes filling with tears, in the miraculous presence of Art.
(p.17)
In the heat of the cinema, on the verge of tears, happier than I had ever been, I was holding the faint warmth of his hand for the first time in months. I knew that an unexpected surge of energy had roused him from his bed, given him the strength to get dressed and the urge to go out, the desire for us to share a conjugal pleasure one more time - and I knew, too, that this was the sign that there was not much time left, a state of grace before the end. But that did not matter to me, I just wanted to make the most of it, of these moments stolen from the burden of illness, moments with his warm hand in mine and a shudder of pleasure going through both of us...'
(p.71)
I flinched when she said bring and at that very moment Monsieur Something also flinched, and our eyes met. And since that infinitesimal nanosecond when - of this I am sure - we were joined in linguistic solidarity by the shared pain that made our bodies shudder, Monsieur Something has been observing me with a very different gaze.
A watchful gaze.
And now he is speaking to me.
(p.130)
What is the purpose of Art? To give us the brief, dazzling illusion of the camellia; to carve from time an emotional aperture that cannot be reduced to animal logic. How is Art born? It is begotten in the mind's ability to sculpt the sensorial domain. What does Art do for us? It gives shape to our emotions, makes them visible and, in so doing, places a seal of eternity upon them, a seal representing all those works that, by means of a particular form, have incarnated the universal nature of human emotions.
(p.199)
... αναλογίζομαι τελικά ότι ίσως αυτό να είναι η ζωή: πολλή απελπισία, αλλά και μερικές στιγμές ομορφιάς, στις οποίες ο χρόνος δεν είναι πια ο ίδιος. Λες και οι νότες της μουσικής έβαλαν μια παρένθεση στον χρόνο, μια αναστολή, ένα αλλού ακόμη και εδώ, ένα πάντα μέσα στο ποτέ.
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Disambiguation notice
Original title: L'élégance du hérisson
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Wikipedia in English (1)

Book 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 façade lies the real Renée: 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, Renée 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.
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The lives of fifty-four-year-old concierge Rene Michel and extremely bright, suicidal twelve-year-old Paloma Josse are transformed by the arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu.

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