The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery

This was a favorite among the local book clubs that I picked up when it arrived at the Library’s Used Book Store.  One of those stories without (or with little) plot, the twist being that it is a French novelist writing about people in Paris.

Renee is a concierge, which seems to be something like a building manager in a swanky condominium building.  She is extremely cultured, particularly well-read and prefers to let the world think she is a game show watching fool. Paloma is a precocious 12 year old with a vapid, self-absorbed mother, an even worse sister and rather irrelevant father.

They each live inside their own heads.  Then a new guy moves into the building and has them all pegged in an instant. Drama ensues.

The misleading thing here, and in the book jacket summary, is how long (how very long) we listen to Renee and Paloma trading chapters, revealing their “profound thoughts” and otherwise pontificating before the new guy arrives on the scene.

On a good page, I would call it a slow burn.  On a bad one, I would lose patience.  But I appreciated the concept of revealing the ways that people hide themselves in plain sight out in the world but don’t really live among those around them.

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