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Heidi Hart

By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general. 

Delicious Prose, if a bit Pretentious

The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery

I generally find French literature insufferably pretentious... and this was pretentious, but not at all insufferable. The two narrators - the privileged, precocious, and suicidal 12-year-old Paloma, and the unschooled but self-educated widow Renée, the concierge in Paloma's upscale apartment building - have nothing in common in life but are kindred spirits in the life of the mind. Both are loners, their too-keen, too-caustic observations of society setting them apart from friends and loved ones in lonely, embittered isolation, until a new resident at number 7, rue de Grenelle, sees each as others can't. This new acquaintance is the catalyst that brings Paloma and Renée together and, in so doing, re-awakens a profound faith in humanity that each had found so lacking.

The novel reads like poetry, with brief chapters trimmed of all excess, so that every word and image glows with clarity and import. For those who appreciate the subtlety and beauty of language, The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a feast for the senses, full of glittering, delicious turns of phrase for the reader to savor like crystallized ginger, sharp and spicy and sweet all at once.


*** Originally posted on GR August 2009.***