Cover of The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Here it goes, my first book review.
I love reading something that is more than sheer entertainment. When I choose a book, I want to feel enlightened. I want to scratch the surface of a new subject. I want to read about new ideas and thoughts. With The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, I found just that.
WARNING: MINOR SPOILERS
The story, told from two perspectives, begins with a young girl, Paloma Josse. She lives in Paris, in a very fancy hotel. Her parents are wealthy, living an extravagant lifestyle. Paloma, despite living "the good life" is quite the cynic. She is extremely intelligent, I will give her that. But, due to her conclusions about life on Earth, she plans to kill herself. She has the whole scenario figured out.
The second perspective is that of the concierge in the hotel. Renee Michel describes herself as old, fat, and with bunions on her feet. However, she is infatuated with Tolstoy. She even named her cat Leo. She loves literature, philosophy, and learning in general. Beneath a frame less-than-pleasing to the eye is a mind swirling with beautiful thoughts.
What happens next I won't tell. But I will tell you my impression of this novel.
At first I was delighted to read a novel with so many new topics to offer. The characters were fascinating, holding an intelligence I wish I could attain. And then I grew slightly annoyed. They began to seen arrogant and proud, almost unaccessible. Their level of intellectuality was too far above my head. But still I read on.
Just when I thought this book was a failure and an annoyance, a new character comes into play that seems to bring out the best of both narrators. Suddenly they are not living these lonely intellectual lives, but instead come together and find beauty. And the ending, which is very unexpected, brings the book in full circle. I felt satisfied upon the end, as well as truly enlightened.
Overall, I think this book is fantastic. The narration is unique in that instead of viewing the world from an outsiders perspective, or directly through the characters eyes, we live in the mind. I found this to be a fresh change of pace. Muriel Barbery is a groundbreaking modern author and truly inspiring. She launches the reader into a new world, told in a new and delightful way.
Buy the book on Amazon here! You won't regret it.
Please let me know what you think of this review and what I could improve upon! I know I have a long way to go from here.