I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all

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I'm a costume designer, makeup artist, teacher, mom, sewer, knitter, baker, want-to-learn-how-to-do-it-all, blogging, Costumed Beagle enthusiast. I am not always pleasant, although through intensive cupcake therapy I have learned not to throw knives at people anymore.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Book Review: Elegance of the Hedgehog

Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery
translation by Alison Anderson

I was hand-me-downed this book.  Which doesn't make it less worthy; I'm just not sure it would have crossed my path otherwise.  It took me a bit to get into it.  In the end, I quite liked it.

The story is set in Paris, modern day and revolves around the daily routine and thoughts of a concierge at a ritzy apartment building.  Renee is a middle aged woman from an unprivileged,  poor background with no education, no grace and no beauty.  She admits all this readily as her day revolves around taking care of the needs of the people in her building who have all of those things.
However, she has a secret: she is incredibly well read, enjoys philosophy and high culture art films. Her outwards expressions to the world around her gives them exactly what they see and what they expect, however.  She prefers it this way thinking it is easier if people believe what they see (or don't).
Renee's life is set next to another tenant of the building, who is also misunderstood: Paloma.  A girl in her early teens who cannot stand the pretentiousness of her family and who is calming planning to commit suicide and set fire to their apartment (in, I must say, a completely pretentious way).
A new tenant moves into the building, a Japanese man, who begins to treat Renee as if she were a person and somehow immediately knows that her cat "Leo" is named for Tolstoy...

It is an interesting story, and reflects philosophically (Ms. Barbery is a philosophy professor after all) on the roles we play in our own lives.

Perhaps not quite frivolous enough to be a summer read; but perfect to start out with in the fall.  And the cover will not embarrass you on public transport.

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