Wednesday, April 11, 2012

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery

In a nutshell, "Hedgehog" is a French novel translated into English.  Because of this, sometimes the syntax of the language and themes seemed a bit unusual.  But once you get used to the candor of the book it's pleasant to follow.  There are two narrators:  Renee Michel who is a concierge in a large, ritzy apartment building (each floor is a unit of 4000 square feet...that TWICE the size of my HOUSE) and Paloma Josse, an impressively sharp and intelligent 12-year-old girl who lives in the building.  One thing to clarify:  in Paris, evidently, concierges are no better than low-class landlords who receive packages, take out the trash, and tend to building maintenance.  They surprisingly don't cross paths until late in the book when a third significant character is introduced.  And that's all I'll tell you of the plot.

What I personally adored about this book was the naive yet in-depth analytic paint-brush Palmoa used to depict humanity.  She understands so much but has seen so little, therefore her perceptions, while provoking, are short-sighted.  Renee, on the other hand, has spent her life hiding who she is, a reaction of fear caused by a tragic event from her youth.  Both the old woman and the young girl are viewing life through dirty spectacles. So much of Renee's narration struck deep chords in my soul.  I didn't feel like I had much in common with Renee as much as I felt she could describe parts of me that I could never put to words before.  

The only thing I didn't like was the fact that Blade Runner was one of Renee's favorite movies.  This is more funny than anything, since I only saw the movie a few months ago.  My husband and I both thought it really creepy and disorienting, and so I didn't understand at all when Renee said her life was like a Ridley Scott movie.  The reference was odd more than anything.  

1 comment:

  1. Guess what I just found? That "Hedgehog" was made into a movie in 2009 and I watched a trailer with English subtitles. We MUST get our hands on this before I move!! I just finished "The Girl Who Was on Fire", so I can fully devote the rest of my reading time to finishing Hedgehog.