The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

After closing the book I just hugged it! Beautiful!

My GoodReads’ Star Rating: 5 stars out of 5, which means: It was amazing!

Artuccino’s bookish observation

This book, the physical one that belongs to me, has had a hurly-burly journey. The first time I picked it up, well, actually the time I bought it and paid full price for it, and then, I abandoned it. And then, I gave it to my local charity shop, where I noticed it remaining on their shelf for months. And then, I bought it back again.! Only heaven knows why. And then, I read it. How could I have missed its beauty the first time round.

Reading choices are based in so much serendipity, aren’t they. Many of the beautiful meditations the prose generated will remain with me for some time to come. I’m so pleased I didn’t miss this one. This is a book that could make a positive difference to the perception of a reader, particularly a young adult, who picks it up, connects with the story, and absorbs its treasure trove of wisdom; turning a desert into a garden of beautiful flowers. At least, I’d like to believe it would.

A little about the book

The Elegance of the Hedgehog (French: L’Élégance du hérisson) is a novel by the French novelist and philosophy teacher Muriel Barbery. The book follows events in the life of a concierge, Renée Michel, whose deliberately concealed intelligence is uncovered by an unstable but intellectually precocious girl named Paloma Josse. Paloma is the daughter of an upper-class family living in the upscale Parisian apartment building where Renée works. Featuring a number of erudite characters, The Elegance of the Hedgehog is full of allusions to literary works, music, films, and paintings. It incorporates themes relating to philosophy, class consciousness, and personal conflict. The events and ideas of the novel are presented through the thoughts and reactions, interleaved throughout the novel, of two narrators, Renée and Paloma. The changes of narrator are marked by switches of typeface. In the case of Paloma, the narration takes the form of her written journal entries and other philosophical reflections; Renée’s story is also told in the first person but more novelistically and in the present tense. ((Find out more about Elegance of the Hedgehog at Wikipedia))

A little about the author

Muriel Barbery was born in Casablanca, Morocco, but she and her parents moved when she was two months old. She studied at the Lycée Lakanal, entered the École Normale Supérieure de Fontenay-Saint-Cloud in 1990 and obtained her agrégation in philosophy in 1993. She then taught philosophy at the Université de Bourgogne, in a lycée, and at the Saint-Lô IUFM (teacher training college). After she quit her job, she lived in 2008–2009 in Japan (2008 and 2009). She currently lives in Europe. ((Find out more about Muriel Barbery at Wikipedia))

Genre – Fiction

Coming of Age Fiction, Philosophy

First Published

2006