Jennifer's Reviews > The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
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Sep 25, 09

Read in September, 2009

It took me a few chapters - OK more like maybe 50 pages - to really get into this book, but I ended up enjoying it. It's kind of a modern-day Cinderella story set in a upscale Paris apartment building, with middle-aged and frumpy concierge Renee cast as our Cinderella. The story is told partly by Renee, partly by Paloma, a smart but depressed and lonely 12-year-old who has decided to kill herself on her next birthday unless something in the world can convince her life is worth living. Both are well-read, philosophical and have a running internal monologue about the stupidness of the other shallower tenants in the building. Much of the philosophy talk bored me, but the story itself was sweet.
My biggest problem with the book was there was too much telling, which results in a lot of judgement, and very little showing. That's hard to escape with a story told in first person by two smart, self-aware characters. Barbery does a good job of handling the budding friendship between new resident, the Japanese Kakuro Ozu, and Renee, which breaks the story out of a straight tell mode.
Ultimately, I loved how these two athiest, logical characters, try to find magic and beauty in the world.
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Reading Progress

09/21/2009 page 157
48.31% "it's so rare for popular fiction to have a whole chapter complaining about improper comma placement."

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Daniel Jennifer's back on GoodReads! I for one couldn't be more pleased. Looking forward to plenty of reviews and comments -- I hope!


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