The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

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Synopsis

Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society's expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Renee: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renee lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. By turn moving and hilarious, this unusual novel became the top-selling book in France in 2007 with sales of over 900,000 copies to-date.
 

About Muriel Barbery

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog is Muriel Barbery’s second novel. Her first book, Une gourmandize, has been translated into twelve languages. It will be published by Europa Editions in 2009.About the Translator Alison Anderson is the author of two novels, Hidden Latitudes and Darwin’s Wink. She has translated two novels by Sélim Nassib for Europa Editions, I Loved You for Your Voice and The Palestinian Lover.
 
Published September 2, 2008 by Europa Editions. 325 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The New York Times

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The woman and the girl who narrate this French novel are closet intellectuals.

Sep 07 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Guardian

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The philosophical musings mean that parts of it read more like a collection of essays than a novel, but Barbery makes her characters come to life and the result is a rich and moving, if occasionally sentimental, read.

Jul 19 2009 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Guardian

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In Camus's La Chute (1956) - a genuinely great, genuinely philosophical novel - the narrator, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, reflects on the meaning of charm.

Oct 25 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Guardian

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They decide that the concierge has 'the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary - and terribly elegant.' All these strands provide Muriel Barbery - a Paris-born one-time philosophy teacher who now lives in Japan - with the opportunity to e...

Sep 14 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Examiner

It evokes thought long after the last page is read and the book quietly closed.

Aug 14 2009 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Independent

The slight plot is punctuated by meditations on the beauty of nature and language, and by Renée's philosophical musings.

Oct 06 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Christian Science Monitor

7, rue de Grenelle, in Paris, is so very typical of that peculiarly French breed that the inhabitants there sometimes joke about her at their dinner tables.

Oct 20 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Booklist Online

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Jan 18 2013 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Review (Barnes & Noble)

In fact, when I first began reading this book, I thought Barbery might be alluding to the famous book on Tolstoy by the philosopher Isaiah Berlin, who was himself quoting the Greek poet Archilochus (Barbery's name-dropping thing is easy once you try): "The fox knows many things but the hedgehog k...

Sep 02 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Bookmarks Magazine

Michael Dirda NY Times Book Review 3.5 of 5 Stars "Both [stories] create eloquent little essays on time, beauty and the meaning of life, Renée with erudition and Paloma with adolescent brio.

Sep 07 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The New Zealand Herald

There's nothing else I've read that's been quite like it.Send A body found in a car on a DOC track near Te Hapua, Northland on January 11 has been… The first cases of water limit breaches by rural irrigators this summer are being investigated… Tauranga Bridge Marina manager Tony Arnold said he an...

Jul 18 2010 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Caribous Mom

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a simple story that explores complex ideas and leaves the reader fulfilled. Highly recommended.

Jul 19 2009 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Novel Life

A tour de force, literary masterpiece that should be read and savored. . .with copious amounts of hot tea.

Nov 13 2013 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

ABC Perth

The author, Muriel Barbery, taught philosophy in Normandy, and the main character in this book, Renée Michel, the concierge of a Paris apartment, also knows a thing or two about philosophy that the wealthy tenants would be surprised she knew.

Mar 18 2009 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

http://mostlyfiction.com

Thoughtful, ironic, and often darkly humorous, the novel creates moods which bring the characters vividly to life, even as they are contemplating the deepest of life’s mysteries.

Sep 18 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Ben Casnocha

Good quotes from the book The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, via this review:.

Dec 03 2010 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Arts Sarasota

Two attempts to read the print form of "The Elegance of the Hedgehog," highly recommended to me by people whose taste in literature I trust, had failed when I turned to the audio form of the book, a French novel more popular in Europe than the United States.

Mar 30 2012 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

http://allreaders.com

The Elegance of the Hedgehog Book Review Summary. Muriel Barbery Booklist Muriel Barbery Message Board. Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Elegance  ...

Feb 27 2016 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Discarded Image

We owe it to ourselves to resist the assumptions and the archetypes and set trajectories for the people we want to be, regardless of who we (and others) may think we are. This is a smart novel, cleverly conceptualized and beautifully translated.

Jan 03 2011 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Sour Grapes Winery

- Urbino, Italy - The Elegance of the Hedgehog has been a literary case here a couple of summers ago.

Sep 30 2011 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

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Fiona Jackson 12 Jul 2013

Rated the book as 5 out of 5

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