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The Elegance of the Hedgehog Audio CD – Audiobook, CD, Unabridged
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Top Customer Reviews
You are precociously intelligent but only twelve and a half. Your sister, studying for her Masters degree at the Sorbonne, is a `beautiful person' of barren soulless talent. Your mother is a vacuous socialist snob while your father is a senior Government official hiding behind his role. You know from Dawkins and all the rest that life is just a pointless primate struggle to reproduce your genes. Surrounded by so much empty posturing and mediocrity, what is the point? You are Paloma Josse and you are determined to commit suicide on your 13th birthday.
A particularly loathsome apartment owner dies and someone new moves in. Wealthy, cultured and thoroughly civilised, perhaps Renee and Paloma, in their daily deceptions, have finally encountered someone they can't hoodwink. Primary certainties are reworked as the story moves to its shocking conclusion.
This is a beautiful piece of work: erudite, laugh-out-loud humorous and tragic by turns. It can't have been easy for Alison Anderson to capture in English the sophistication of Muriel Barbery's writing, but she's made a fine job of it. Recommended.
Alternating with Renee's thoughts about her life and studies, are the musings of Paloma Josse, a twelve-year-old who lives in the apartment building, the daughter of wealthy parents who have active professional lives. Like Renee, Paloma pretends to be just average, carefully constructing her own façade so that she can fit in at school, though she has the intellectual level of a senior in college. Ignored by her parents and her school, Paloma plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday. As the lives of Renee and Paloma unfold and overlap, the rough parallels in their lives become obvious, both in their isolation and in their need to hide their talents.
When one of the apartment residents dies, Kakuro Ozu, whom Renee thinks may be related to the Japanese film maker that she most admires, moves in. Paloma, too, is impressed with Ozu, bemoaning the fact that he has moved in just as she has decided to kill herself.Read more ›
Just a brief summary, as described by both main characters -Renée and Paloma - introducing themselves in the beginning of the book, which is written in a diary form by each.
Paris, present day. Renée is the widowed concierge of an elegant building in an exclusive area. Its inhabitants all belong to the upper class. She is, by her own admission, dowdy, unattractive, often grumpy and wants everybody to believe that she is the stereotype of all concierges, blending into the background, almost featureless. But Renée has a well-kept secret: she is an extremely cultured autodidact. She loves art, philosophy, literature, music. Aestheticism and beauty in all of its forms fascinate her. Renée keeps concealing this aspect of her life to the outside world, hiding behind the concierge's screen -literal and metaphorical-.
Paloma is a twelve-year-old who lives in the building with her rich family. She is distractedly well-loved by her parents and does not get along with her older sister. Paloma is an extremely bright, clear-headed, lucid child. She is so lucid it is uncomfortable -yet to the reader she also conveys tenderness, and her wittiness is remarkable- .Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I really don't like giving negative reviews, but this book was such a pretentious, cloying waste of time I felt I had to warn people. Read morePublished 3 days ago by Pamela Olson
Great book. I have read it twice. It has quite a few references to philosophy and art, so it is a book for intellectuals.Published 3 days ago by Lauren and Justine's Mom
Once again, I am captivated by a book with such exquisite vocabulary. However, I will be the first to admit that perhaps I am not quite the intellect, that is clearly the author's... Read morePublished 4 days ago by ME
I love great literary fiction, and I love Paris, so I thought this book would be just about perfect for me. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Hands On Equine
I read this book as a selection for my book club and found it a challenge as I don't normally read books of this nature. Read morePublished 13 days ago by Pat
I love this book. The vocabulary is awesome. I enjoyed every minute of reading this book. I highly recommend it.Published 16 days ago by Brayer Queen
It is obvious that Barbery is quite intelligent as she goes to great lengths to prove this. Her vocabulary is immense, so much so that the story line gets lost. Read morePublished 21 days ago by Arizona Fan
My all-time favorite novel. Every sentence is equally as beautiful as the entire story.Published 25 days ago by Amazon Customer