Tuesday, February 10, 2009
The Elegance of the Hedgehog by, Muriel Barbery
Loved it. Absolutely. Thank you Graham for finding this gem. And thank you Wendy for reading it right before me and putting up with me talking about it so much on our trip. This book is French. It has been translated. Both of the main characters are endearing. I loved them, hence loved the book.
Paloma and Renee each have "the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside, she's covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary--and terribly elegant."
I took a lot of notes, I'll spare you most of them, but really I'd love to write them all up.
Here are a few that I really liked:
Madame Michel writes about her husband's last days, and going to a movie, "he had placed his trust in what we had said to each other without any need for words."
I love that, not just the point she is making, but the lovely way it is written.
Or, Paloma while visiting her grandma in a rest home, says, "I was ripe for despair. Then suddenly I remembered that I had decided to build and not destroy. I looked all around me for something positive," I love the dramatics of Paloma's emotions, because that's how we are as teenagers. Lots of things she said cracked me up.
"If you think about it carefully, there is nothing uglier than an open door." Renee is explaining why the Japanese sliding doors are so much better. And still talking about Japanese design, "Maybe we're all sick with this too much of everything."
I'll admit that there are times when Renee's philosophical musings begin to lose me. But enough of what she says is really good stuff, that I like her.
One more Paloma quote, "So when they sing a canon I look down at the ground because it's just too much emotion at once: it's too beautiful, and everyone singing together, this marvelous sharing."
That is one of the themes running in this book, noticing those pure moments of beauty.
I will state that the ending is not what I really wanted or expected. I won't say anymore. But it's still a great book.
I hope more of you will read it because this is totally in my top 10.