17 July 2010

Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog | Muriel Barbery

I've been procrastinating about writing the review for this book, because frankly I didn't enjoy it. I know it's been on many Top Ten Bestseller lists at home and abroad, but I just found it pretentious and ostentatious. I was annoyed by the main character, Madam Renee Michel, a concierge in a French apartment building who is a bibliophile and extremely well read, even naming her cat after a character from Russian literature. Frustratingly, Madam Michel 'dumbs herself down' so that the wealthy and posh residents won't find out the truth about her. (So what if they did?). In fact, she goes to great lengths to maintain the outward picture of a dumpy, dopey middle aged woman.

The 'Best Supporting Actress' award of the novel goes to the character of Paloma, a 12 year old resident in the building who is a child prodigy and intensely philosophical and contemplative. The introduction of a new resident, Kakuro Ozu was a turning point in the novel, and the most enjoyable section.

I believe the author was looking for an avenue to show off her intellect and did so here under the guise of fiction. I know my opinion will upset those of you who have enjoyed this book, but I have to be true to myself, and the title of this blog. I'm aware that The Elegance of the Hedgehog has been met with incredible success, however I guess it just wasn't for me.

My rating = **

Carpe Librum!

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