The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery
Narrated by Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris
HighBridge Company, 2009
9 hours and 34 minutes
One sentence summary (from publisher):
An enchanting New York Times and international best seller and award-winner about life, art, literature, philosophy, culture, class, privilege, and power, seen through the eyes of a 54-year-old French concierge and a precocious but troubled 12-year-old girl.
My thoughts will be brief, as I may truly be the last blogger to read or listen to The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The book has been exhaustively reviewed. Just type the title into Book Blogs Search Engine and you'll see what I mean.
The Elegance of the Hedgehog is an incredibly thought-provoking, cerebral novel. There isn't much in the way of plot and that made it hard for me to get involved initially. But once hooked, I was entranced. The ending came out of nowhere and was a complete surprise - I was dumbstruck.
This audio production is absolutely brilliant! Barbara Rosenblat is Madame Michele, the concierge, and Cassandra Morris is equally convincing as twelve-year-old Paloma. In fact, I think audio may actually be the best way to experience this novel. I may not have persevered through the slow beginning otherwise.
Passages I liked:
"I have read so many books...
And yet, like most autodidacts, I am never quite sure of what I have gained from them. There are days when I feel I have been able to grasp all there is to know in one single gaze, as if invisible branches suddenly spring out of nowhere, weaving together all the disparate strands of my reading - and then suddenly the meaning escapes, the essence evaporates, and no matter how often I reread the same lines, they seem to flee ever further with each subsequent reading, and I see myself as some mad old fool who thinks her stomach is full because she's been attentively reading the menu." (page 53)
"Madame Michel had the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside, she's covered in quills, a real fortress,but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary - and terribly elegant." (page 143)
Half a start off for the slow start