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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Especially in the novel’s early stretch, Barbery, a professor of philosophy, seems too clever for her own good...Even when the novel is most essayistic, the narrators’ kinetic minds and engaging voices (in Alison Anderson’s fluent translation) propel us ahead.

Sep 05 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 18 2009 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Guardian

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You might as well buy it before someone recommends it for your book group. Its charm will make you say yes.

Oct 24 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Guardian

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Clever, informative and moving, it is essentially a crash course in philosophy interwoven with a platonic love story. Though it wanders in places, this is an admirable novel which deserves as wide a readership here as it had in France.

Sep 13 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

...people who seem clever are just showing off. The book flatters the reader, offering reassurance that untutored instinct is truer than the opinions of so-called experts. Matters aren't helped much by Alison Anderson's translation, which too often mimics the structure of French sentences...

Oct 05 2008 | Read Full Review of The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Christian Science Monitor

Not all the insights are original (see: the serenity of tea), but “Hedgehog” definitely has its own elegance.

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

Booklist Online

But there’s good news—by subscribing today, you will receive 22 issues of Booklist magazine, 4 issues of Book Links, and single-login access to Booklist Online and over 170,000 reviews.

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

Review (Barnes & Noble)

I’d like to persuade myself that one of Barbery’s satirical targets was precisely the kind of sentimentality that takes over the last third of her book and that there’s one big profound message here.

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

Barbery has written a relentlessly interesting book filled with ruminations. She uses her story to celebrate art and deride French snobbery, yet at the same time manages to make it heart-warming, amusing and moving.

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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Feb 27 2016 | 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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