Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

And the answer to my clue about the book I read that somehow relates to the adorable baby hedgehog picture I included in my last post? It's.....

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.

I was really excited to read this, my book club's latest pick. The story is narrated in turn by Renee, a concierge in a Parisian apartment building and Paloma, the young daughter of one of the wealthy families in the building. Both are extremely intelligent and cultured, but both hide this fact from the world. They're brought together by Mr. Ozu, a Japanese gentleman who moves into the building and is able to see each of them for who she really is. I initially thought that this book would be more fanciful and Amelie- esque than it is. Hedgehog is actually a bit darker and more philosophical- but it does share some of Amelie's themes of finding pleasure and beauty in everyday life, and the interior lives of the people around us that we don't always get to see. I really liked the ending (which might shock anyone who knows the ending), because it was truly surprising and unexpected. It was the kind of ending that I wouldn't have seen coming even if I went into the book knowing that there was a surprising and unexpected ending, and it nicely offsets all of the preceding story.

In a nice coincidence, the night I finished the book I got to eat gyoza, an Asian dumpling that Mr. Ozu and Renee eat in the story.

They were so good- a bit more delicate in taste than other Chinese dumplings I've had. I ordered these at Wagamama, a fun, London-import Asian noodle chain- perhaps not as elegant as the Parisian setting in the book, but still very enjoyable.

1 comment:

  1. I read this book and felt the same way - surprised at the ending, and actually pleased, though it was sad, but because it had taken me off guard. Usually you can see an ending coming from miles away, but this was truly unexpected.



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