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The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery; Review

September 10, 2009

The Elegance of the Hedgehog


My mom had me screen this novel for my book club. After reading it, I determined that it wasn’t exactly fit for my group… but fit for me, certainly.


The Elegance of the Hedgehog is the perfect example of what writing can be. Its thoughtful passages are worded in such an enlightening way as to cause pleasurable thrills to scuttle down my spine. Its simplicity is over-shadowed by its undeniably and fantastically rich word-choice. I have never, and possibly will never, read a book that so fulfilled my inner, incorrigible yearning for heavy text and philosophical thought. The characters are inarguably two of the most misunderstood characters of all time, both purposely concealing their inner brilliance to shield them from the judgments of their companions in the preposterously lavish hotel they live in; one as the humble, toad-like concierge who uses her employment to use her arrogant fellow men as guinea pigs in her on-going evaluations of human nature, and the other as a young, twelve-year-old girl, one of the resident’s daughters, who only recently vowed to end her tedious life the day she turns thirteen. Following these characters as their lives are intertwined and they develop into more substantial people is fascinating. I have had to shamefully shove away the thought that all writing containing irrefutably diverse word-choice and deep thought must have been, on principle, written before the twentieth century. I am humbled.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 11, 2010 12:18 AM

    I found your review while doing a blogsearch on reviews of Muriel Barbery’s “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”, and this is by far one of my favourites of all the ones that I read and commented on. While the heavily styled writing of “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” made me go through the book slowly, I realised that it’s not the type of book to breeze through just to wile away the time. To truly enjoy it is to savour it.

  2. September 12, 2009 4:35 AM

    You’ve written a great review! ‘Elegance’ is already on my wish list (I’m waiting for another one of those 40% off coupons to appear in my email), so I hope to read it soon. It might be a good choice for my book club, too. I saw your comment on Bellezza’s blog and decided to stop over…glad I did!

  3. Bellezza permalink
    September 11, 2009 7:27 PM

    What a wonderful, astute review you have written. In particular, I liked this phrase: “incorrigible yearning for heavy text and philosophical thought” because I, too, yearn for novels with philosophical thought. Too often, they’re far too trite. But this one deals with real issues, real questions, and real relationships. Thanks for visiting me today.

    • Madeleine permalink*
      September 11, 2009 7:29 PM

      You’re welcome! Thanks for visiting me! I’m always glad to see that I’ve gotten a comment. Hopefully my next few reviews will be satisfying as well.

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