Elegance of the Hedgehog, The

Barbery, Muriel

  9 Reviews

Appearances can be deceptive, something the privileged residents of number seven Rue de Grenelle would soon discover if they were to look beyond the seemingly stereotypical character of their concierge, Renee. Belied by her simple and humble persona, she is a closet intellectual and cultural enthusiast, which is fortuitously apparent to kindred spirits and fellow tenants, Kakuro Oza, a Japanese gentleman, and Paloma Fosse, a disenchanted twelve year old.

Rich with philosophical ponderings and 'Profound Thoughts, this is a clever and quirky story worthy of its Parisian setting.

Comments from Groups

A delightfully controversial sort of book, resulting in in-depth discussion, both of plot and content. After which I think some realized that they had got more out of it than they thought......Coromandel 002

Needs two readings to enjoy and understand. We liked the profound thoughts and excellent character portrayal. Our discussion was about how we all wear 'masks', the importance thereof and the occasions we lower our masks. Upper Hutt 001

A very mixed reception for this book. Some couldn't read much of it, some finished it and loved it, and others read it and only enjoyed parts of it. This led to great discussion, which in the end made people realize that there was more to the book than they had first thought. Putaruru 001

Most of the group found it took a while to work out the intent of the book, but gradually became immersed in the different characters - we all needed a dictionary at times! Napier 016

We had a lively discussion. The general feeling was that the book started well, but lost momentum towards the middle where the author seem to 'lecturing' the reader through Renee and Paloma. However when Kakuro entered the scene, the dynamics changed to make the second half of the book the reward for persevering . Wellington 123

This book had a very mixed reception. Some of us really enjoyed it. Some found Paloma and Renee annoying. Excellent discussion had on class and culture. Ngongotaha 001

Good prose. Slightly old-fashioned maybe due to the translation. Overall most of us enjoyed it once we got into it, but it requires an effort to read as you need to concentrate on each sentence. Cooks 001



NELS 071
Although some found this hard to get into - once Kakuro came on the scene everyone enjoyed it.
CHCH 060
Most of the group enjoyed this book.
AUCK 143
This book was very well received by the group. Bit slow at the beginning and very shocking at the end. A very clever book.
Whole group enjoyed this immensely...some found the start slow but then really got into it. Translation became a topic of discussion, as very good. Layers of meaning and reference were the result of research by some.
ROTO 012
Everyone loved it. 100%.
Majority of our group either couldnt get into this book or didnt finish it, got bogged down with all the philosophical passages. The minority who did persevere actually really enjoyed it, for some it was a real page turner and the frenchness was appealing to some. The ending was unexpected though.
Most of us quite enjoyed this book with its great portrayal of the interesting characters. We all needed a dictionary at times as there are also some very interesting words! Very moving and we enjoyed the philosophy.
TURA 002
Great thought provoking questions with this book, however for most of us it was not a page turner, and we got a bit bogged down in the philosophy.
Most of us enjoyed it although a little old-fashioned or slightly European in terms of having a concierge for a building outside of a hotel. In this case, the main character who is European makes friends with a Japanese gentleman who doesn't seem to understand the perceived social etiquettes, along with a young girl who have similar interests and are all intellectuals.