The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Muriel Barbery: The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L’élégance du hérisson originally published by Gallimard 2006)

Many thanks to Geopen Könyvkiadó for sending me the book!

Muriel Barbery was born in Morocco, but his parents moved back to France shortly after her birth. She completed her schools here and got her doctorate in philosophy. She also lived in Japan and currently lives in Europe. She has written four books so far, The Elegance of the Hedgehog is the second and most successful of her book, which has won several awards, has been reprinted fifty times and has been purchased in millions of copies in the first two years since its publication. The book was published in Hungarian by Geopen Könyvkiadó in a beautiful edition of the Contemporary World Literary Series.

The two narrators in the story are Renée, the housekeeper, and Paloma, a little girl living on the fifth floor of the private palace in Paris. The parts narrated by the two of them are also separated in print. They don’t even know it, but they are kindred spirits: they are both exceptionally intelligent and hide this from their environment. The difference between them is that Renée has already found her hiding place and is embarrassingly careful not to let anyone see through her disguise, while Paloma is just wondering if life makes sense. The answer comes in the form of a Japanese gentleman who sees through the masks of both and brings the possibility of a new life.

I was afraid to start this book because I heard so much good about it and I thought, what if I didn’t like it. But I really liked it! This is a wonderful book that everyone should read at some point in their lives. I know that I will read it several times. It is so very “French” and very personal. For those who seek eternity: a little always in the never…