Kat's Reviews > The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
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's review
Apr 22, 2010

did not like it
bookshelves: borrowed-from-library, read-in-2010
Recommended for: pretentious people
Read from April 22 to 28, 2010 , read count: 1

I am a self-professed grammar fiend. I cringe when I hear or read the English language being mangled. I also enjoy things like classic literature, fine imported tea and cold Japanese noodles. But unlike the protagonists in this book, with whom I share these characteristics, I am not a pretentious snob. I listen to cheesy pop music, read tabloid magazines and eat junk food.

This book fancies itself a very smart one; it turns its nose up at you if you do not understand the words its characters are speaking. The two narrators — 54-year-old concierge Reneé and 12-year-old genius Paloma — go on for pages and pages philosophizing about things most of us don't even think about. Like how a door disrupts a room. Or how hairstylists are paid to do for people what they should be doing themselves. Reneé and Paloma constantly complain about the stupidity of the people living in their building. People who don't understand the beauty of language, or the importance of speaking and writing properly.

I'm not a very deep person. I don't spend hours thinking about the meaning of life. Perhaps this is why I just couldn't get myself to like this book. I can understand why some would think this is a brilliant, moving novel. But it didn't hold my interest at all — not once. A small semblance of a plot is introduced more than halfway into the book, but by then I was so completely detached from the characters, I didn't care what happens to them. At least the two protagonists somewhat redeem themselves at the end when they learn to appreciate the beauty and importance of human relationships.

I really like the cover of this book, and I was hoping its contents would be just as appealing to me, but sadly that's not the case. I just wanted to hurry up and finish this book so I can start reading another (better) one.


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