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The Elegance of the Hedgehog Audio CD – Audiobook, 20 Oct 2009

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Highbridge Company; Unabridged edition (20 Oct. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1598879251
  • ISBN-13: 978-1598879254
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3 x 14.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (315 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 995,123 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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.

Product Description


"Lo and behold, yet another work that is more captivating . . . when read aloud than read off the page." --"Sarasota Herald-Tribune"

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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Ms P. E. Vernon on 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 By Victoria VINE VOICE on 17 Sept. 2008
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 By Katharine Kirby TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 May 2010
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 By Mrs. S. R. Wray on 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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