Thursday, August 20, 2009

Book Review: "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" by Muriel Barbery

Where do I start when it comes to discussing this book? I will start at the part where I was told this book may change my life. I was also informed that this book was philosophical. Now, I'm not sure about life changing but I'm sure that I have a not-so-secret admiration for Philosophy so I gave this book a chance.

This book is a French book translated to English. I am not French. This may be a cultural handicap that may have hindered my full comprehension of the uniqueness of this book. I guess what I'm trying to say is that this book was not as profound as I had expected it to be. Since I am very self aware there were not that many "aha" moments. There were, however, some great points about beauty.

"You eat the way you look at a beautiful painting or sing in a beautiful choir. Niether too much or too little, moderate, in good sense of the word."

I hold an Art History degree but even as an art lover I have struggled with the concept of what art and beauty play in daily life. Oprah may tell you that it's the small things in life. In the case of Paloma, beauty is a rosebud that falls onto a counter and taking in the essence of that delicate fall. As far as the philosophy in this book I was disappointed. While some argue that it was too philosophical I would have liked more philosophizing.

I had a hard time empathizing with Paloma. I don't sympathize with sucidal characters. But I can relate to being a 12 year old that thinks too much about the world around her. I was pleased with her decision in the end. I very much enjoyed Renee. Being an audiodidact myself and growing up less than wealthy I related to Renee. It was because of her that I enjoyed the book.

I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars which is the rating for an average book on Danine's scale of rating books. I would recommend this book but I would recommend reading "Sophie's World" by Jostein Gaarder before "The Elegance of the Hedgehog".

Here are a few memorable quotes:

"But if you dread tomorrow, it's because you don't know how to build the present, and when you don't know how to build the present you tell yourself you can deal with it tomorrow, and it's a lost cause anyway because tomorrow always ends up becoming today, don't you see?" -Renee

"I won't get any better by punishing people I can't heal." -Paloma

Anthology will be happy to check our inventory for "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" or "Sophie's world". If you would like to place an order with us here is the info that will help us place your order.

1. The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. ISBN: 1933372605. Paperback. $15.00

2. Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder. ISBN: 0374530718. Paperback. $12.00.

Have you read either of these books? What did you think?

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