My husband noticed the book I was reading last night and asked if I had developed a new policy of only reading books with somewhat unusual titles. I haven’t – although I can see how it may have appeared that way reflecting on the books I have been reading over the past few months.
I recently finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery.
Contrary to the title the book is not about hedgehogs – well not the english countryside animal kind anyway. I have fond memories of seeing hedgehogs scuttle across the garden when visiting my grandparents in the Cotswolds but I would never have thought to describe them as elegant. There is something fascinating about them however…
I wish I had the book in front of me as I would have quoted a few lines but it was a library book and others were waiting for it so have sent it on to its next reader.
My main incentive for reading this book relates to a policy which I do hold to – that is, not seeing the movie until I have read the book! And apparently a movie is coming out soon so …
The story is set in a french apartment block and centres on the interaction between the concierge and the tenants. The concierge strives to appear as a simple french peasant whilst hiding her true self – a woman of superior understanding, taste and desire to learn. This ploy has been going well for many years until a new tenant moves into the building and sees her with fresh eyes. He enlists the help of a brilliant young child who also lives in the building to uncover the truth behind the facade.
Did I love this book?
The author is a philosopher and this fills the book to the point where it occasionally seemed like the characters were forgotten. It is not a plot driven story by any means. The reviews I read were at either extreme of the love it/hate it spectrum although I think I probably fall somewhere in the middle myself. I didn’t love it but I was happy to keep reading it and be exposed to a style of writing which I would not usually choose to read.
The movie could well be brilliant!
TIP It may be advisable to have a dictionary on hand as you read. Someone had jotted down definitions of some of the difficult words and phrases in the book that I read – normally I would be appalled but it was actually quite helpful. I wonder if I could be fired for writing that?