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The elegance of the hedgehog
Muriel Barbery
Adult Fiction BARBERY

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From Publishers' Weekly:

This dark but redemptive novel, an international bestseller, marks the debut in English of Normandy philosophy professor Barbery. Renee Michel, 54 and widowed, is the stolid concierge in an elegant Paris hotel particulier. Though "short, ugly, and plump," Renee has, as she says, "always been poor," but she has a secret: she's a ferocious autodidact who's better versed in literature and the arts than any of the building's snobby residents. Meanwhile, "supersmart" 12-year-old Paloma Josse, who switches off narration with Renee, lives in the building with her wealthy, liberal family. Having grasped life's futility early on, Paloma plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday. The arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu, who befriends both the young pessimist and the concierge alike, sets up their possible transformations. By turns very funny (particularly in Paloma's sections) and heartbreaking, Barbery never allows either of her dour narrators to get too cerebral or too sentimental. Her simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

This late addition to HighBridge Audio's catalog, whose 2006 print edition topped France's best sellers lists, is alternately narrated by a 54-year-old Parisian concierge and a precocious 12-year-old girl residing in the building where he works. Though the novel starts slowly, it eventually transforms into a beautiful love story that quietly takes on classism and the meaning of life in one fell swoop. The readings by Barbara Rosenblat ( and Cassandra Morris (Elsewhere) add life and realism. For fans of the work of Alice Sebold, Pablo Neruda, and Paulo Coelho. [The New York Times best-selling Europa Editions pb was recommended "for public libraries where literature in translation is in demand and for academic libraries to complement their French collections," LJ 6/15/08.-Ed.]-Terry Ann Lawler, Phoenix P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Renee Michael
Age: 54
Works in an elegant Paris hotel; has always been poor; taught herself literature and the arts.
Hotel employee

Paloma Josse
Age: 12
Extremely smart; lives in the Paris hotel that Renee works at; wants to commit suicide.

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