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The Elegance of the Hedgehog
The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Author: Muriel Barbery
We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Rena', the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Rena' is a cultured...  more
ISBN-13: 9781933372600
ISBN-10: 1933372605
Publication Date: 9/2/2008
Pages: 336
Rating:
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
 407

3.5 stars, based on 407 ratings
Publisher: Europa Editions
Book Type: Paperback
Other Versions: Hardcover, Audio CD
Reviews: Member | Amazon | Write a Review
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Top Member Book Reviews

  • Currently 5/5 Stars.
reviewed The Elegance of the Hedgehog on + 50 more book reviews
15 member(s) found this review helpful.
What a stunning, gorgeously-written book! I've placed it on my All-Time Top 5 List without hesitation. The narrative perspective switches back and forth between a cranky, secretly-erudite Concierge at a high-end French luxury building and the genius-but-equally-cranky 12-year-old daughter of one of the residents, a Socialist member of the French government. With equal parts Ignatius J. Reilly'esque laugh-out-loud outrage at the world & people's stupidity mixed with a survey of modern literature and key philosophical ideas, this elegant book covers everything from profound ideas to the profound ways that people hide - from each other and themselves. The sudden ending actually made me cry, which was when I realized how invested I had become in the characters.
  • Currently 0.5/5 Stars.
reviewed The Elegance of the Hedgehog on
11 member(s) found this review helpful.
I chose this book as our book club read last month. The reviews were spectacular but I found this book difficult to read at best. Unlike other reviewers, I didn't find the characters engaging in the least as well as snobby, whiny and pretentious. I usually devour this type of book but this is one of the very few I couldn't even finish reading it. Of our eight book club members, nobody enjoyed the read and few wanted to finish it. Perhaps we're simply not refined or educated enough, but half a star is already too generous in my opinion.
  • Currently 0/5 Stars.
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7 member(s) found this review helpful.
I really liked this one, although I did skip over a few of the more "abstract" of the tiny chapters. Paloma, the younger co-protagonist did come off as a tad too precocious at times, so I could understand folks disliking her for that reason; Renee, the other main character, wasn't nearly as over-the-top. Moreover, the supporting characters carry their own weight, not just two-dimensional props.
The book has been described as a "fable", but I'd say it's as much a parody, though there's a moral to the story.

Definitely recommended.

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  • Currently 0.5/5 Stars.
reviewed The Elegance of the Hedgehog on
This is the first review I've done on PBS. This book was chosen for our book club, so I felt like I had to read it. The first 90 pages were brutal and added nothing to the book. The last 50 pages were good. Everything in between, I had to make myself read. Would definitely skip this one. There are too many good books out there.
  • Currently 4/5 Stars.
reviewed The Elegance of the Hedgehog on + 520 more book reviews
I think I probably missed some of the subtleties related to the discussions of philosophy (it's been a long time since I read Kant, and I'm not certain I "got it" the first time around) but I very much enjoyed the characters and their interactions in this book. If you're looking for something slow and thoughtful with moments of beauty, a critique of the upper middle-class, and a love of literature this would be a good selection.
  • Currently 3/5 Stars.
reviewed The Elegance of the Hedgehog on
This was not one of my favorite "reads" although it was entertaining in parts. The author won many prizes for this and so I believe it was written well. The girl who is the main character learns many things about the dynamics of life and family.

Book Wiki

People/Characters
Paloma Josse (Primary Character)
Renee Michel (Primary Character)
Kakuro Ozu (Major Character)
Manuela (Average Character)
Pierre Arthens (Trivial Character)
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