Friday, February 22, 2013

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was our February bookclub book. There was only a couple in the group that completely disliked the book. Most of us agree that we struggled through about half of it because of the excess of philosophical musings in the characters ruminations, which severely hampered the plot. However, once Mr. Ozu was introduced, things picked up.

We discussed a lot about our "invisible self" or instances where we know someone isn't revealing everything about themselves to the world at large. This book really is about every person's invisible part. Renee was hiding how smart she was because she was just a lowly concierge in an uptown building and it would upset the class structure if people knew she read Tolstoy and other great literature. Paloma had to hide how intelligent she was and eventually was going to "show them all" by committing suicide. Then Mr. Ozu moves into the building and can see right through their charade, befriends both of them heedless of society's class system.

The book was also difficult to read for some of us, because we kept stopping to copy lines. It is full of metaphors and witty observations of life and the people in it, you just eat it up. I recommend reading it twice. The 1st time to absorb it all and the 2nd to enjoy. Most of us agreed we would read it again.

A few great lines:
Paloma describing her sister - "...a hostile lesion of a sister" pg. 85

Renee - "We are good primates, so we spend most of our time maintaining and defending our territory, so that it will protect and gratify us; climbing - or trying not to slide down the tribes hierarchical ladder." pg. 97

Renee - "I press the start button, sip my jasmine tea. From time to time I rewind, thanks to this secular rosary known as the remote control." pg 99

Each member had there own favorites, too many to put here. We recommend.

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