Monday, January 26, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

by Muriel Barbery

French Contemporary Fiction

General: In central Paris, in a very exclusive apartment, live two extremely intelligent people, both of them on a mission to keep their genius under wraps. Unbeknown to the other, or to most of  the world around them, their secret self is slowly seeping out. Under normal circumstances, their worlds would not collide, one of them being a lowly, fifty-four year old concierge, and the other the twelve year old daughter of wealthy tenants. However, these two begin to suspect the other's gift, and forge an unlikely friendship with the help of a new Japanese tenant, Kakuro Ozu.
Renee, the crusty old concierge, is a self-taught product of peasant farmers, who believes that each class must remain where they are and do what is expected of them. 
Paloma, is frustrated with her life, and her place in it, and is striving to find purpose and a reason to continue living. She begins writing two journals, in order to determine whether she should commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday. The Journal of Profound Thoughts and The Journal of the Movement of the World.

Thoughts: This is a very unique book that speaks more through philosophical ideas than a major plot. However, there is a story and relationship with these characters that pull you quickly through the story. There are many thoughts dealing with finding beauty in life through art, music, poetry and literature. There are also many "profound thoughts" about the ways in which we deal with others. "We never look beyond our assumptions and, what's worse, we have given up trying to meet others; we just meet ourselves."  
I'll leave you with just one more thought, "...if you dread tomorrow, it's because you don't know how to build the present,... Climb our own personal Everest and do it in such a way that every step is a little bit of eternity."
I like books that challenge your positions about life and relationships. I really enjoyed the language in this book as well, it was just beautifully written. (You might need your dictionary though.) You should read this.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good. I think I'll have to read this one.