The Elegance of the Hedgehog - by Muriel Barbery
Posted by elsie katz on Sat, 09 Dec 2017
First heard this on Radio 4 a few years back, now re-reading it.I love stories that give me something new and since I have never lived in a big posh Parisian apartment block... The narrators take turns. Renee the concierge was a poor farm girl. She married a local lad and they moved to town. He died young, she continued working and living in her tied flat and at 54 she has a long-term prickly view of the residents who take her for granted as a Mrs Mop dogsbody. She has a secret - she likes reading heavyweight books, philosophy being her favourite. Because she never socialises or spends money on beautifying herself she can also treat herself to tiny tastes of fine foods and she listens to classical music. Paloma the other narrator lives upstairs.She is 12, and the daughter of a Cabinet minister. She is clever, lonely and cynical. She plans to kill herself as she figures that if she is the elite and all around her are gormless hypocrites then life is irredeembly hopeless. Renee and Paloma become friends because they are neighbours and like the same books and hate the same people. There are several well drawn backup characters and at one point love looms close. Renee goes to the hairdresser for her very first visit and her pal Manuela, a cleaner who works upstairs is full of praise.
Don't want to give too much away. If you want a bit of mildly exotic feelgood with some sharp observational humour and accept some sadness too, this is the perfect prezzie for self or for a friend