Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

The silver lining to my hour and a half wait at the doctor's office (I never did manage to see him, but that's a managed care horror story for another time), is that I persevered through the slow beginning of this book. Once in, I enjoyed the careful combination of erudition and entertainment. The ending, unfortunately, was not terrific. I admit to being a pretty harsh judge of endings, but honestly, after the work that went into all of the palatable-for-the-public philosophical musings in this book, I think we could expect a little more subtlety. Here's a nice review from the Guardian; their reviewer is a little more enthusiastic and doubtless more thoughtful than I.

Where I heard about this book: Can't really remember - it was reviewed everywhere.

What I thought of this book
: Pretty good - 3 1/2 stars.

What this book is about
: Narrated alternately by its two main characters, this book consists of the musings of a middle-aged concierge and one of the residents of her building, a world-weary 12 year old. Both are unusually brilliant outsiders, with penchants for philosophy and Japanese culture. They are ultimately saved from their parallel states of solitude by the mysterious stranger who comes to live in their midst. And, of course, they're all French, so they easily sound much smarter and more interesting than the rest of us.

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