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The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Написано Muriel Barbery

Озвучено Barbara Rosenblat и Cassandra Morris


The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Написано Muriel Barbery

Озвучено Barbara Rosenblat и Cassandra Morris

оценки:
4/5 (346 оценки)
Длина:
9 hours
Издатель:
Издано:
Jun 17, 2009
ISBN:
9781598879261
Формат:
Аудиокнига

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Описание

An enchanting New York Times and international bestseller 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.

Renée Michel is the 54-year-old concierge of a luxury Paris apartment building. Her exterior (“short, ugly, and plump”) and demeanor (“poor, discreet, and insignificant”) belie her keen, questing mind and profound erudition. Paloma Josse is a 12-year-old genius who behaves as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. She plans to kill herself on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday.

Both Renée and Paloma hide their true talents and finest qualities from the bourgeois families around them, until a wealthy Japanese gentleman named Ozu moves into building. Only he sees through them, perceiving the secret that haunts Renée, winning Paloma's trust, and helping the two discover their kindred souls. Moving, funny, tender, and triumphant, Barbery's novel exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

Издатель:
Издано:
Jun 17, 2009
ISBN:
9781598879261
Формат:
Аудиокнига

Также доступно как...

Также доступно как книгеКниге

Об авторе

Muriel Barbery is a former lecturer in philosophy and the bestselling author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which has sold more than 6 million copies worldwide and been described by Le Figaro as ‘the publishing phenomenon of the decade’.


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Отзывы читателей

  • (5/5)
    I did find this brilliant. A slight breeze of inspiration, peppered with insights and regrets. It was certainly configured for a popular recpetion, but the images remained transportive. I was affected.
  • (2/5)
    I enjoyed most of this book - though it was a little challenging for me, it got easier as I went along. The two characters, a middle aged concierge and the 12 year old daughter of one of the upper middle class families that lives in the building, feel alienated from most of the people around them. One hides her intelligence, the other does also, while planning her suicide. With the appearance of a new tenant, they form connections and new hope for life. It's full of philosophy and humor and tender moments - until the crappy crappy ending that pissed me off -

    SPOILER

    No Renee, you are not your sister, except that you are - if you cross class lines, the price is death. HAHAHAHAHA. I'm still kinda steamed. I had considered reading it again in English to catch the bits I missed, but no more. Oh well.
  • (2/5)
    Perhaps I am too American for this book. Perhaps it lost something in translation--certainly most of the bits about language, but perhaps also the voices of the different characters, who all ended up sounding the same (pretentious, stuffy, and self-important). But then again, all of the "intelligent" characters all like the same things (Russian novels, Mozart, and a strangely idealized version of Japanese culture), so perhaps they really all do sound like the same person, and all of them are a proxy for the author. All in all an odd read. Perhaps the author should write philosophical treatises, which is what it seems like she'd really rather be writing, and leave off with the novels.
  • (5/5)
    Because I have spent an entire month discussing Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery with all the lovelies who participate in the book club (hosted by me & Allison), I’m going to sum it up here quickly.Renee is a concierge at a condominium building in France. She’s super smart, but since she was born poor and doesn’t have a formal education, she spends her life tricking her residents into thinking she’s dull. This works. . . for a while.Then we have a teenage girl who is going to commit suicide but only after she gets all of her amazingly intelligent thoughts out on paper.For the full review, visit Love at First Book
  • (3/5)
    This book is a delightful disappointment, a hugely successful failure, a predictable page-turner.Since I read a translation by novelist Alison Anderson, whose "Hidden Latitudes" I read ten or so years ago and quite liked, any comment I make on the writing of this book is misplaced. I don't know what Muriel Barbery's writing is like. I know that Barbery is well served by her translator. Anderson presents us with a text whose twining first-person narratives rather resemble the narrative technique she used in "Hidden Latitudes" to tell Amelia Earhart's imagined life stranded on a desert island.What do Paloma, a twelve-year-old child of privilege and Renée, a fifty-four-year-old daughter of poverty have in common? The novel sets out to define their commonality of cause and kinship. That they are sisters under the skin is a set-piece of the book from the start. This really isn't good news, since the characters are not necessarily best understood as being in tandem; they share one central characteristic that organizes each one's life: They hide. Hiding from others, the masks required of those who are different from the norm, this rich seam is well and fully explored in this novel. It is even over-explored. Perhaps “beaten half to death” would be the way to say it. Paloma is far smarter than her elegant Parisian power-couple parents or her very bright (in an average sort of way) college-student sister. She begins her journey through the pages by announcing that, on her next birthday, she will commit suicide and simultaneously burn her home down. Adolescent angst, oh goody, was my first thought. Little Paloma with no problemas wants to kill herself, well sugar, go do that and leave old man Richard alone. Little by little, Paloma records in her two journals the few things she can find in her little world that make life worth living. It is these reflections and observations that make the meat of the book, that give us enough insight into this young person's development to make reading her philosophical ramblings worth the time and effort.Renée, the adult in the piece, is even less obviously sympathetic; she's decided to hide her intelligence and be, to all outward appearances, the typical working-class occupant of a concierge's loge. She isn't that at all, and she reports to us in her first-person narration that she has no respect for those who employ her since they are so easily fooled into believing her crafted image. So far, so average. What makes this book's whole greater than the sum of its parts is the quality of the philosophical musings the two characters indulge in; they are very well worth the time to read.I can't say I was happy with the ending of this book and I was distinctly irked by the revelation of the Great Buried Secret in Renée's past, it seemed so pat and contrived and predictable. Paloma's plot line resolves in a great whoosh of predictability, too. But this is a book that uses the formula (loners are people, too! Loneliness is bad! Look around you, there are treasures on every doorstep!) to a very satisfying-to-read end. On balance, recommended reading for anyone who likes underdog stories, and who has an interest in philosophical musings. Worth a read for anyone who simply wants to pass a few pleasant hours. Avoid at all costs if happy endings are the only ones you like. Don't bother with the book if you are looking for any sort of challenge in the reading or the thinking you'll do here.
  • (4/5)
    A young girl is unhappy with her life and has a plan to commit suicide. However, when her life begins to intersect with others in her apartment building, everything begins to take unexpected turns.This review is not really going to be fair because I read this book about a year and a half ago but only recently realized I never sat down to review it. Initially, I had received this book as a gift but was finally given the push to read it when my book club chose it as a title one month. It made for a great discussion with others. However, I did feel like I was rushing to get it done in time (poor planning on my part). In fact, I started swapping between reading the print book and listening to the audiobook so that I could finish it before we met. I'd like to re-read the book someday and spend more time with it, especially to look up the references that I didn't immediately know.I recall the book could be rather philosophical at times; in fact, this title would appeal more to those who like character-driven books rather than plot-driven ones. The audiobook version was well-narrated.
  • (3/5)
    There was a great deal to like in "Elegance of the Hedgehog." Much of the writing is good, the use of different fonts to show the changing POV was clever, and the building relationships between the three main characters was very nicely done. However, ultimately, it didn't work for me. I found the lengthy expositions on philosophy and art to be overly long, and worse, not very insightful. Perhaps this was supposed to be revealing about the characters but I felt that if that was the case, sure that could have been done in a better way. I felt the ending was unnecessarily melodramatic, sexist and classist, which totally put me off the book. I understand the point the writer was trying to make, but as someone from a blue collar background, it completely offended me.
  • (5/5)
    After reading the first few sections of this book, I expected it to be depressing in its drama, as though the personalities in this building were being speared with criticisms. But as I browsed through it, I found familiar people and situations and stories that drew me in, and then I had read the whole thing. It is true that the smallest touch of a person can have the greatest effect on another. This book has certainly had a profound effect on me and I'm sure I'll be reading it again and I will find myself in its pages.
  • (5/5)
    Very different, quietly witty, deeply satisfying.
  • (4/5)
    In this French novel, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, there are two primary characters that evolve and develop into compelling and complex characters. Renee Michelle, a middle aged non-descript concierge of a small apartment is surrounded and somewhat intertwined with a building of very diverse tenants. Paloma Josse, age 12 is a very intelligent and somewhat solitary young girl. Both of these characters are quiet and speak mostly to themselves in their own minds where their ideas and knowledge are intelligent and complex. From planning and thinking of suicide to developing unlikely relationships and experiencing unexpected events, the lives of these two females and those around them are the basis for a rich and well constructed novel which will find you smiling, laughing and perhaps even shedding a tear. I will never look at a camellia, drink afternoon tea or hear classical music in quite the same way again. This was a lovely read.
  • (1/5)
    Wow, that's an annoying book. You can expect a pre-teen, especially a smart one, to have these DEEP THOUGHTS...but the book presents them as actual insights. Sheesh. Madame Michel is even more annoying - she's intelligent, but incredibly stupid, with her hiding away. And if you're going to have a character go into paroxysms of rage over a misplaced comma, you MAY not thereafter mess up the language - "seven am in the morning", sheesh. OK, by the end of the book I _finally_ got a clue about the hiding - before that, I'd decided the entire reason for it was so that Paloma and Kakuro would have something to do. But the insights, such as they are, at the end of the book - are too close to the end, too rushed. I slogged through nine tenths of the book with nothing but idiocy. The last tenth is actually good, in relaying insights and understanding, but the well is already poisoned. And then the cheap shot ending, that solves all problems. UGH. I'm sorry I read this, and it's a painful example of why I don't read "literature".
  • (3/5)
    You need to like philosophy or at least have some understanding of it to appreciate this book, I think. Its plot and characters are likeable without an aptitude for philosophy, but to read the book and hate philosophy will make this story tedious, for there are a number of pauses in the "action" for characters to ponder and discuss components of life, existentialism, purpose, etc. At the very least push through them and see the strong commentary on life and society that this book suggests. The translation is amazing -- at least, the language in the English version is superb with exceptional diction and eloquence that I can only assume was skillfully brought in from the French version. This is not a light read, but it is a worthy read, if you are ready to think and reflect and be touched.
  • (4/5)
    Had a hard time getting into this book as it seemed to be very whiny but philosophical. Finally things happen when an apartment in the building is sold and purchased by a Japanese man who turns life upside down for a concierge and a 12 year old girl. Some very funny comments on French food and wealth. Brush up on your Tolstoy before reading.
  • (3/5)
    3.5 stars
    Finally done with it, will review it some other time.
  • (2/5)
    This book features two interesting, damaged, and likable characters but buries them in high-brow philosophical musings. The story running beneath it all is excellent - a concierge who outwardly reflects what her employers expect so that she can hide away to develop her intellect and also avoid life; a 12-year-old girl, mature beyond her age and suicidal because she sees what will be a very dull future living among people who are so conceited and/or dim that they are blind to the world around them. When an unexpected new tenant arrives, both women are compelled to look at their lives differently. After failing at reading the printed book, I turned to the audio and was delighted that Barbara Rosenblat seems to understand Renee's highbrow thoughts and, by placing emphasis where it belongs, actually makes them almost comprehensible. Cassandra Morris's voice for Paloma is also very pleasant and suitable to the character.
  • (4/5)
    I just finished this book and I was very sad for it come to a close. The overly philosophical musings of the two main characters took a little bit of adjusting to, especially as it was unexpected when I decided to read this, and at times I thought it was a bit pretentious and overdone. However, the characters were written with such warmth that I couldn't help but feel for them and therefore be very taken aback by the ending. I am very glad that Barbery's other book, Gourmet, is about another minor character, as it feels that there is another extension of this novel to be read.
  • (5/5)
    what a wonderful book, it may break your heart
  • (4/5)
    Not an easy book, sometimes a bit irritating because a lot of the philosophy was just vain talking in my opinion (but later on in the book I began to think perhaps this was meant to be so?), but with an intriguing story and memorable characters, and an ending that is perhaps not happy but really right.I read the Dutch translation and I was not happy with it - French critics have praised the fluency and beauty of the language, and I did not find any of that in this translation. But the book was strong enough to keep me reading in spite of the stumbling awkward sentences. I should have bought the original, but I was too lazy.
  • (5/5)
    I was drawn to this book in part because of all the fascinating reviews. It seemed to cause such a split: magical or pretentious? Flowing or stuffy? There seemed to be no middle ground.I found it quiet charming, though I might be biased by appeal of "hiding your light under a bushel." The idea that people could chose to keep their lives hidden, a secret treasure for select few to share, is such a unique theory. In the current world of "I Me Mine" where over sharing is the norm, I found this refreshing. The characters are well-fleshed and endearing, but not perfect. Their quirks aren't meant to be charming or coy, they are just conditions of being human. One thing I think may put off some readers is the pace. The reader begins to want certain people to cross paths, but the novel doesn't rush this- much like it is in real life!
  • (5/5)
    When I finished reading this book, I felt like I had lost the friends I made in it. That's how I know I loved it.
  • (5/5)
    Madame Michel has been the concierge of an exclusive Paris apartment building for nearly thirty years. She has managed to avoid making any ties to the families who live there by presenting to the world a facade of the stereotypical French employee- an uneducated, mean-tempered oaf who watches t.v. all day.Paloma is a twelve year-old of one of the privileged families in the building, a girl whose IQ exceeds her family's understanding and whose anger at her isolation causes her to hide.Monsieur Ozu is the first new tenant in the building in years. His exotic Japanese ways draw the attention of everyone, including the most invisible residents.This book holds a lot of story. It covers social classes, cultural differences, loneliness, art, but philosophy is as much of the plot as the characters. It is deeply philosophical, to the point, late in the book, where it seemed like the concierge was analyzing grains of sand. For me, that intense scrutiny was the only glitch in this story. Otherwise it is absorbing.
  • (3/5)
    It was a letdown after all the great reviews. It's one of those books that I question if all the people buying it are actually reading the entire thing. French concierge who has spent the past twenty years hiding her intellect is found out by a wise Japanese tenant. Not sure who should be more insulted; concierges or the Parisian Bourgeoisie. The ending was definitely French!
  • (4/5)
    Elegance of the Hedgehog unapologetically delves into some detailed philosophical musings which may be a bit much for some, but also balances things out with plenty of laugh-out- loud moments. The main characters are not endearingly quirky as much as they are highly cerebral misfits in their own cultural strata. They can be somewhat annoying at times (more so before you get to know and understand them better)- but who can't? It is a unique and very well written book with great dialogue and characters. The ending did not please me (the author is a French philosopher and most likely does not care a smidgen about my opinion on this matter.) I would read future books by Muriel Barbery.
  • (4/5)
    Exquisite writing. Barbery has created two characters of such depth, the reader wants more. Unfortunately that will not happen due to the death of one of the characters.Lyrical, pragmatic, a great read.
  • (4/5)
    One of the most enjoyable books I've listened to in a while. It was delightful to imagine a secretly intellectual concierge who" hides in plain sight", until she is found out by two others in her building. This story teaches us to look beyond ourselves and see the elegance of others.I agree with other reviewers that the first half was slow.
  • (4/5)
    Life can change in an instant. You see the great abyss. You have it all figured out. And then suddenly, it seems, your outlook, your life, changes profoundly. It changes because the love and respect others have for you and because you begin to see into the hearts of others.

    For a little while I was glad to be among those who can appreciate some of the references to philosophical concepts, classic art, and highfalutin vocabulary. In spite of this distraction of erudite references and learned vocabulary I enjoyed the story very much and might very well read the book again in a few years, maybe more slowly.
  • (4/5)
    Very charming. Some esoteric "look at me" spurts of prose in there, but mostly germane to the story. The central relationship and story were quite affecting, though.
  • (4/5)
    The concierge of a swanky apartment building in Paris secretly lives for philosophy and the arts, but she was born poor and homely with no advantages. She educates herself and maintains the facade she feels the rich people who live in her apartments expect. The counterpoint to Renee, the concierge, is Paloma, the daughter of one of the tenants of the building. She is also hiding her secret self from others and is making plans to kill herself on her 13th birthday. A new tenant, Mr. Ozu brings these two together and changes their lives forever. Rather an odd book, and not at all what I was expecting.
  • (4/5)
    Interesting & unusual.
    All kinds of reviews you can read for loving or hating this book.
    For me it was one that stood out from the norm and I may read it again to absorb more than just "the story" (since I'm a cave person reader - zipping thru just for "the story")
    I was hooked at "Leo".
    Read the book, then find the (obscure) movie (French with subtitles).
    Read in 2011.
  • (3/5)
    Set in Paris, written in long sentences with sophisticated vocabulary, with philosophical and literary allusions (Husserl, Ockham, Tolstoy), characters drink jasmin tea, like cats and camellias, listen to classic music, like Vermeer and Dutch still life and are fascinated in Japanese culture - sounds like the perfect book to me, but still there is something missing in it. Gets better in the second half and have an interesting ending. Anybody noticed that Paloma and Colombe both names mean turtledove?