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The Elegance of the Hedgehog [Kindle Edition]

Muriel Barbery , Alison Anderson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Book Description

Renée is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society's expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this façade lies the real Renée: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renée lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever.

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Review

Resistance is futile. you might as well buy it before someone recommends it for your book group. Its charm will make you say yes. --The Guardian

Clever, informative and moving ... this is an admirable novel which deserves as wide a readership here as it had in France. --The Observer

The book's attractive, Amélie-esque Parisian setting and cast of eccentrics will appeal to many --Sunday Telegraph

About the Author

Muriel Barbery is a philosophy teacher. Her first novel, 'The Gourmet' has been translated into twelve languages. Her second novel, 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' has sold over 5 million copies worldwide.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 857 KB
  • Print Length: 323 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1906040184
  • Publisher: Gallic Books (2 Sept. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BS030RQ
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • : Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #10,495 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Muriel Barbery teaches philosophy. 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' is her second novel, which has been highly acclaimed in the press and was awarded the Prix du Rotary international 2007.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 61 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed, but ultimately rewarding 26 April 2010
Format:Paperback
This is a difficult book to categorise and that, in itself, makes it interesting. Is it a deeply philosophical story about the beauty of art, the loneliness of the artistic soul and the French class system? Or is it a pretentious and unconvincing story about unlikely characters?

Renée is a 54-year-old concierge in an apartment block catering to wealthy Parisians. She is patronised and belittled by the residents, but is complicit in the way she is treated, since she makes a concerted effort to disguise her true nature and her love of art and literature. Paloma is the troubled 12-year-old daughter of one of the families who live in the apartment block. She, too, hides her intellect from her family and, convinced of the futility of life, has resolved to kill herself on her 13th birthday. Their stories are told in alternate chapters (helpfully, each voice is characterised by a different typeface) and the first part of the book deals with their philosophical musings and their disdain for virtually everyone around them.

We, the readers, can see how much they have in common, but they are each so self-obsessed and introverted that a meeting of minds seems unlikely. Then one of the residents dies and the apartment is sold to a Japanese gentleman who, in a matter of moments, perceives and understands their separate loneliness and prickly defensiveness. He is the catalyst who breaks through their shells and encourages them to reveal their true natures.

The second half of the novel, which deals with this awakening, is more satisfying. Instead of chapters of interminable solipsistic philosophy, we get a story. Eureka!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Average. 17 Sept. 2008
By Victoria VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like some other reviewers on here, I am not entirely sure how or why this book has become a bestseller (though I do find myself thinking this more and more often!!) It isn't bad as such, but I agree that you are left wondering what the point of it all is. I found both central characters quite unlikeable - their intellectual ramblings got on my nerves and slowed the pace of the novel to a halt.

The novel follows a concierge of an apartment block for the rich who hides her intelligence behind what she conceives to be the archetypal stereotype of her social role, and a thirteen year old brainbox of a rich kid who is planning to kill herself and torch the family home on her thirteenth birthday. It is rather quaint and quirky, and some of the prose is rich (and I must say, very nicely translated.) But the novel generally left me feeling like it was trying too hard to make profound philisophical statements about not much at all. Perhaps on a second reading it would improve in my estimation, but on the whole, I just didn't get it.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Hedgehog Syndrome 2 May 2010
By Katharine Kirby TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I picked up from a really useful amazon review that this is a phrase used in France to describe a person who crosses the road for no known reason; inevitably used symbolically at the end of `The Elegance of the Hedgehog'. Thank you `Sal' from France. Clever! Well, the whole book is indubitably clever and I'm not so much into overly pretentious seeming and potentially excluding writing. So I say that I enjoyed this book very much - in parts. And those parts really made the reading experience worthwhile, thankfully.

I liked the camaraderie and sparkling dialogue around Renee's table in her `lodge', a word that kept reminding me beavers and otters - which rather suits Madame Renee Michel. I was glad that she had the wonderful Manuela as a friend and that profound thinker Paloma tracked her way down to the lodge to find her salvation. I enjoyed the charming, kind, Fairy Godfather Kakuro Ozu and his renovation of the Monsieur Arthen's apartment; this work sounded absolutely gorgeous and was described so temptingly. Perhaps apart from the loo flushing music; however the gales of laughter it inspired were well worth its inclusion.

There is an element of farce bestowed by the running up and downstairs, opening doors, watchful, social climbing neighbours and the scene where Renee, unrecognised, and Mr. Ozu merrily set off together arm in arm for their celebration dinner. The same happens when Renee visits the dry cleaner and happily accepts the wrong dress. The callers at the door of the lodge, which was occasionally shut in their faces, also contributed to the feeling of a Brian Rix farce in rollicking full swing.
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109 of 114 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ultimately magnificent 18 Jan. 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
If there was ever a book that deserved sticking with, this is it. I have to admit that at first I really hated it, for all the reasons that the other reviewers who hated it gave - pretentious language, arrogant characters, boring philosophical pontification, BUT I persevered, mostly because it's my book group read, and I found myself warming to the book more and more as I got further in to it. Generally the main characters in a book go on a journey, and that's true of this book, but I think that I, as the reader, also went on a journey, perhaps even more so, as my attitude towards the characters changed until I truly loved both Renee and Paloma. As another reviewer said, the plot comes alive after the arrival of the Japanese gentleman, and I became competely gripped from this point on. Toward the end I was actually pleading out loud to the book to make things turn out the way I wanted, and having just finished reading, I'm still wiping away tears. I once read a book called 'splashes of joy in the cesspool of life' and I think that title somewhat sums up the theme of this beautiful book - beauty in the midst of tragedy. I could so easily have given up on this book, but I'm very glad I stuck with it.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Persevere with this one
It took me three attempts to read this and I am so pleased that I persevered. I think you have to be in the right 'mental space' to fully enjoy this wonderful book. Read more
Published 1 day ago by beverley fergar
2.0 out of 5 stars Confusion over lack of different fonts on kindle
Book confusing, pretentious but good ending. Hang in until the end and it all makes sense. Could have been shorter.
Published 3 days ago by Skinnybalinky
5.0 out of 5 stars inspirational and true
I have read this book for the first time six years ago. I then forgot about it and studied for a degree in philosophy. I have now completed my degree and read it again. Read more
Published 27 days ago by SmokinSuzy
5.0 out of 5 stars The Elegance of the Hedgehog
An excellent book, delivered promptly and packed securely
Published 1 month ago by David Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars Curious and entertaining.
At first I really wasn't sure about the style of prose. Then, all at once, I became engrossed. Who is the hedgehog? The aristocrat? Read more
Published 1 month ago by wilsonio
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Fascinating read
Published 2 months ago by Angela Howarth
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book about connecting with people.
Warm, funny and memorable, this book is one I shall reread many times. The characters were well drawn and easy to fall in love with and I certainly did. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Andrew Byatt
1.0 out of 5 stars but some of the girls in the book club liked it, it must be me
I found it really heavy going, but some of the girls in the book club liked it, it must be me!
Published 2 months ago by C.R. Watson
5.0 out of 5 stars funny and often very moving
An engrossing book which also merits re-reading. I found it perceptive, funny and often very moving.
Published 3 months ago by Bookworm
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
I found the book very pretentious, but also moving and readable if you don't give up.
Published 3 months ago by Wendy Diane Bell
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