The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
In an elegant hôtel particulier in Paris, Renée, the concierge, is all but invisible―short, plump, middle-aged, with bunions on her feet and an addiction to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she’s everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in an upscale neighborhood. But Renée has a secret: she furtively, ferociously devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor, she scrutinizes the lives of the tenants―her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth.
Paloma is a twelve-year-old who lives on the fifth floor. Talented and precocious, she’s come to terms with life’s seeming futility and decided to end her own on her thirteenth birthday. Until then, she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop culture, a good but not outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.
Paloma and Renée hide their true talents and finest qualities from a world they believe cannot or will not appreciate them. But after a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building, they will begin to recognize each other as kindred souls, in a novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us, and “teaches philosophical lessons by shrewdly exposing rich secret lives hidden beneath conventional exteriors” (Kirkus Reviews).
Mansfield Public Library’s Book Discussion Group has been meeting regularly since December 1996. We meet on the 2nd Tuesday of the month, 6:45 to 8:00 p.m. During this COVID-19 pandemic, we are meeting on zoom. Please contact Pat McMullan firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to receive an invitation to the zoom meeting.
Our group continually welcomes new members. Although we don’t always like the same books, we always find something to talk about and usually something to laugh about, too. If you can only come on a “drop in-drop out” basis, that’s fine with us. If you haven’t finished the book, don’t worry about it!
Copies of all books will be available at our library! Simply ask at the circulation desk, or call 860-423-2501 to arrange for curbside pickup.