The Elegance of the Hedgehog

I was right: no actual hedgehogs. Naturally, a disappointment for those of us have a thing for quilly mammals, with their moist nubbin-noses and curly pink tongues. But of course, how could there be an actual hedgehog? In a work of literary fiction? (Note to self: Write a work of literary fiction in which a hedgehog is of central importance.) Instead, the hedgehog is a well-employed metaphor in a gripping, smart, hilarious book.

Muriel Barbery creates two compelling voices: a sensitive, brilliant twelve-year-old aristocrat who has philosophized herself out of wanting to live; and a sensitive, brilliant, middle-aged concierge (akin to an apartment building manager) who jealously guards her intellect from the tenants of the building, lest they discover her pretensions above her station.

I enjoyed the company of both. Plus, I was joyfully surprised by the turn the book takes, from high philosophy (qua coping mechanism) to deep feeling. Hooray for both!

One Response to “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”

  1. [...] pays off: It’s how I discovered, most recently, Joe Meno, Anya Ulinich, Abigail Thomas, and Muriel Barbery. And now there’s Aryn Kyle and her fine first novel, The God of [...]

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