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The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery I have been eager to listen to this book, partly because of the large range of opinions from people who have checked this one out. I've seen people only get through a few cds before giving up on it and people who have loved it so much that they've read/listened to the book multiple times. After finishing it, I can understand why. The Elegance of the Hedgehog is the story of 2 characters who live in an apartment building in Paris. Paloma, a 12 year old resident of the apartment is bright and inquisitive and has decided that rather than become a vacuous member of the bourgeois (like the other residents), she will commit suicide on her 13th birthday. The other main character is Renee, the concierge of the apartment, who outwardly behaves just as a concierge should - is brusque and overweight, dresses in frumpy clothes and watches daytime television all day long. But, underneath this disguise is a self-educated Renaissance woman who appreciates art, music and Leo Tolstoy. The book starts out VERY slowly changing narrations between the 2 characters. Chapter after chapter is filled with their musings on life and living in the apartment. This is the point that many people decide to give up on this book. But, my advice is 'Stick With it'. About a third of the way into the book, the story picks up and the characters really begin to shine. The audio narration is perfect. Barbara Rosenblat is the voice of Renee, the crabby 'hedgehog'-like concierge. Even without following all of her long philosophical diatribes, I began to really like this complex character. The voice of Paloma is performed by Cassandra Morris who is spot on with her innocent child-like voice. Now I want to listen one more time and really pay attention to the beginning - definitely a winner.