Natalie E. Ramm's Reviews > The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
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Sep 27, 2011

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Read from February 29 to March 07, 2012

Oscillating between the POV of an aging concierge, Renee, and a 12-year-old girl living in the same building, Paloma, The Elegance of the Hedgehog reminds us that no one is just what they seem.

Renee is philosophical and intelligent, but she strives to hide this from the tenants in her building. Her private life is rich with thought but devoid of emotional connection, except the friendship she’s developed with a maid in the building. Oh, and her cat. She loves that guy.

Paloma’s part is told in the form of journal entries; she is convinced she should kill herself because it’s just too awful to be so smart amidst a family and world of imbeciles and phonies (to use Holden’s words). When Paloma and Renee meet and discover an unexpected friendship it will change their lives for the better. And Renee might fall in love with a famous film maker.

This book was fantastically written! Once you get past the first 20 pages or so, it is a delight to read, but once again with the white girl angst and overly philosophical narration. I’ve read this story so many times: smart character looking down on everyone else for looking down on her, even though she keeps herself in a perpetual state of being looked down upon probably due to deeply buried insecurities related to class or attractiveness Except this time it’s FRENCH, very French. However, it did have a pretty great plot line, so I put up with the philosophical “is life meaningless” question. I mean, the ending really threw me for a loop. I found myself teary-eyed.

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02/29/2012 page 15
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