Friday, January 16, 2015

Book Club: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Happy Friday!! I've been desperately waiting for the weekend ~ during the past two weeks I had very long workdays and needed a break (should not complain ~ work pays bills!), but this morning woke up with a bad sore throat. I have a feeling that this weekend I will be spending most of my time in bed and eating soul soothing hearty soups. So, I thought that the best way to brighten my weekend is to grab another great book to read.

Yes! The book club is back! I enjoyed very much our last book Where'd You Go Bernadette, and it's about time to get back to reading again. 

This time I picked a beautiful book about philosophy of life, death, and relationships, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. (I got Europa Editions, translation from French by Alison Anderson.)

The story is narrated by two different characters ~ a fifty-four-year old concierge and widow named RenĂ©e Michel, and Paloma Josse, the twelve-year old daughter one of the wealthy families living in the house. They both are very intelligent, but they're doing their best to hide that fact. The book does not really claim the profundity and is a sweet hopeful experience. 

Here's the description of the book from
   "We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renee, 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, Ren?e is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.
   Then there's Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.
   Paloma and Renee hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renee's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us."

Are you going to join me in reading this book? Should be fun!

If you are going to participate, start reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog. In mid February I will post a few questions and announce the date of the book chat! 
xo, Zuma A.

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