Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Just as I've learned whom to trust in matters of book recommendations, I'm also cautious when recommending a book. While I am often eager to convince members of my book club to read novels I've already read and loved, we more often choose a title none of us have read. For April, at my suggestion, based completely on the word of one of my favorite readers, we settled on Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog. As I started reading this unusual story, translated from French, of a nondescript concierge and a young girl contemplating suicide, I worried about how my group would respond. Truly, much of the book delves deep into philosophy. I loved both characters, Renee and her young neighbor Paloma, and enjoyed the alternating accounts. I kept wondering, though, when they would discover one another, kindred spirits from such different backgrounds.

They meet through Kakuro Uzo, the newest tenant in the building, and what results is a beautiful, heartbreaking story of love and hope and friendship. I'm not one to weep, but just now, as I've turned the last page of the book, I feel heartbroken. Already, I'm thinking of who all I know that need to read this book too.

1 comment:

JLC said...

I have to tell you I was fortunate to have been given this book. I recommended it to a friend for her book club, and I reviewed it for the on line magazine for which I write monthly reviews. the publisher (Picador) has recently come out with another of these beautifully presented paperbacks: The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa. Wonderful reading too.