The Elegance of the Hedgehog

June 23, 2016

Author: Muriel Barbary.


Renee is the concierge of a wealthy apartment house in the center of Paris. Witness to the lavish and disparate lives of the rich around her, she hides her true intelligence from them. Pretending to be addicted to television and looking no further than her own doorstep, she studies art, philosophy, music and

Japanese culture in the privacy of her apartment.

Paloma is an unusually thoughtful twelve-year old, who has come to the conclusion that life is meaningless and she can do nothing better than remove herself from it. Although prone to fits of melancholy and possessing a superiority complex, she sees much deeper than the average twelve-year old, but hides this fact from all.

The two will only be drawn to open up and discover each other at the arrival of a Japanese man named Ozu who will change both their lives.

My Thoughts:

I have seen multiple reviews deploring the lack of plot and the constant philosophical rambling. Myself, I could see why this would get annoying; but as it was, this aspect I actually enjoyed. The reflections from both povs were interesting, although Renee’s more so, and you mostly have to accept that there simply isn’t an actionable plot.
It’s an intriguing premise – these two hidden thinkers, each out of place in their own way, each hiding from the world. Each, finally, finding kindred spirits to relive the melancholy of their musing and suggest that there is hope for the world at large after all.

Content Review:

Sexual content: Two dogs on leashes try to mate. “Humans spend their time […] fornicating in all imaginable ways”. School kid says “there are kids in sixth grade who’ve already had sexual relations”. Description in some detail of a queen bee’s mating processes. Memory, more told than shown, of a young girl who “lost her honor”, coming home to give birth right before dying.

Language: 3 exclamations of God, 1 bloody, 1 d***, 1 scatological term, 1 F-word

Violence: Woman twists her ankle. Character struck and killed by a vehicle.


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