Hubert's Reviews > The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
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Dec 09, 10

bookshelves: fiction, french-interest, boston-20s-and-30s
Read from November 20 to December 09, 2010

Not sure what to think of this!

The story centers around a well-read concierge who tends to a building in Paris inhabited by well-to-do folk. She muses on all things literary, philosophical, and I suppose the book is supposed to read as a critical commentary on class in contemporary France.

And that's where I think the book falters: as a set of musings, the book is cute, but without a clear plot, or a sense that the characters are deeply invested emotionally somehow, I am less convinced that these characters are ones I should care about.

As for the other character featured prominently, a young girl on the cusp of adolescence who plans to burn down her house on her 13th birthday, her character provides somewhat of a counterpoint to the concierge. Supposedly more precocious than other kids her age, she provides critical commentary to her own class which her family inhabits.

I suspect that the book was a hit in France because it may be one of the early works to confront class and status in the way that Americans have been obsessed over this issue. While admirable, the project wears thin over the course of reading the book.
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