The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

 

 

 

Edition: Europa Editions (September 2008)
ISBN: 978-1-933372-60-0
Binding: Trade Paperback with French flaps
Page Count: 336
Paper Quality: Good
Original Language: French, translated to English by Alison Anderson

This novel was written by a professor of philosophy and contains some simple philosophical topics written in accessible prose for the reader. There are several layers of allusion woven into the storyline starting with the dichotomy of the novel being written in the form of diary entries and stream-of-consciousness narration of the dual protagonists, Renée and Paloma. The two are interspersed by the use of different fonts, which does get a bit tedious at times, but it helps greatly that one of the fonts is bolded and the other isn’t. The primary lens of the novel seems to be from Renée’s point of view, but Paloma provides some interesting chunks of information to educate the reader on various matters.

At the end of the novel, the plot seemed to be have been tersely written to an unsatisfying conclusion, but that’s probably due to it being a ‘typical’ French novel not being appealing to my admittedly American tastes. All in all, the translation seems to have been superb, and I rather enjoyed this novel during certain parts, such as the ‘cherry plum’ test, and Paloma’s explanation of the rituals of tea. I’d rate this novel as being a worthwhile read, but I wouldn’t re-read it. As such, it doesn’t merit a permanent place on my bookshelves, but I wouldn’t blame anybody for keeping a copy of this novel around.

Overall Grade – B minus

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