Thursday, October 29, 2009

"The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery

Three lives seemingly separate, come together to help one another. Renee is a 54 yr. old concierge who hides her love/knowledge of culture because of her status. Paloma is a 12 yr. old girl who hides her immense intelligence because of the expectations of others. Her plan is to kill herself on her 13th birthday. These two are from two different, but not really so different, worlds. Kakuro Ozu is a Japanese gentleman in his 60's who is new to the building, but also a catalyst to help Renee and Paloma really discover themselves.

One of my favorite quotes is found on page 91. "tea is the beverage of the wealthy and of the poor; the tea ritual, therefore, has the extraordinary virtue of introducing into the absurdity of our lives an aperture of serene harmony."

It is easy to understand the way characters feel because of the stereotypes each brings to their lives or feels from others. I was caught up in the story of hiding intelligence and the love of culture. Why would people feel the need to hide these wonderful attributes? I was also caught up in the story of Paloma and her desire to kill herself on her 13th birthday. Why would she want to do this? Did she meet her goal of profound thoughts? How was Ozu helpful to each of them? I encourage you to pick up the book and discover the answers to these questions. You will find comedy, poignancy, and profound thoughts.

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