The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the HedgehogFinished audio 6-17-11, rating 3.5/5, fiction, pub. 2008

Unabridged audio 9.5 hours.  Read by Tony-Award winner Barbara Rosenblat & Cassandra Morris

Renee Michel is a concierge at a posh Paris apartment building and Paloma Josse is a 12-year-old girl planning on committing suicide on her 13th birthday.  The two know each other only in passing until the impressive Mr. Ozu movies into the building and befriends them both.  Renee cannot believe that someone like Mr. Ozu can see the real her, the intelligent and insightful woman behind the concierge mask and Paloma is surprised to find someone in the upper class to surprise her with warmth and smarts.

The chapters alternate between the two and this worked for me.  I liked them both for their intelligence, spunk, and subtlety.  I would have liked more story between them.  The first half of the book was an introduction and many philosophy references.  Too many for me.  This is a book that I believe benefitted from the audio performances.  I absolutely loved listening to Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris.  They really brought the words to life for me.  I’m not sure I would have made it through the print version.

Barbery is a professor of philosophy and it shows.  She reeled me in from the beginning and then I got a little lost and/or bored until the last third of the book.  The introduction of Mr. Ozu was really where the story and my enjoyment began.  This had been on my wishlist for so long that I had forgotten everything I read about it, so I was completely unprepared for the ending.  I had forgotten or never known that it would blow me away.

I’m iffy on this one.  I would recommend the audio if you are considering it though.

I checked this audio out of the library.