Sunday, October 19, 2008

the hedgehog and the garbage puff

Between CE classes, I finished The Elegance of the Hedgehog, a novel by Muriel Barbery (translated from French to English by Alison Anderson).

The book is about Renée, a 54-year-old woman who has been the concierge of a small apartment building in Paris for 27 years. While she plays the part of a not-too-bright, lower-social-class concierge, she is actually very intelligent and has extensively studied philosophy and art on her own. She prefers to keep her intellectual life hidden from the residents, and works hard at maintaining her facade.

Alternating with Renée's observations and philosophical thoughts are those of Paloma, a 12-year-old who lives with her family in the apartment building. Like Renée, Paloma has constructed a facade. She is brilliant but pretends to be just average. Since she is unable to find meaning in life, she plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday, and set the apartment on fire for good measure.

A new resident, Kakuro Ozu, moves into the apartment building and through him the lives of Renée and Paloma begin to overlap...
(Cue dramatic music.)

Great book! One thing I really liked was the idea that people are often not what they appear to be on the surface. This has certainly been my experience with many of my patients. I'm thinking of one who looks like a typical "Joe Six Pack" guy (to use the term of the month!) whose "hobby" is to fly his plane for medical missions. And there's a non-assuming elderly woman who, as it turns out, spends about half of the year in Switzerland where she sings in a musical ensemble. So yep, I'd agree with that 'more than meets the eye' idea.

There is a lot of depth to the book (especially with its focus on philosophy) -- and I'd highly recommend it.

While I was finishing the novel between classes, Garbage Puff was over in the exhibit hall checking out the lastest in equipment.

9 comments:

Presbyterian Gal said...

Thank goodness someone was paying attention to business!

(sounds like a good book)

Jiff said...

You and Grabage Puff both know how to have a good time.
Thanks for the book rec!

mompriest said...

oh the GP, always on the cutting edge of learning and society!

Sounds like a good book....

dust bunny said...

Who knew CE could be so much fun!

Jan said...

Another book! Thanks for recommending it.

"PS" (a.k.a. purple) said...

Does GP have a travel allowance???? Sounds like a great time.

offspring #1 said...

Sewing in those retinas was tough.

Barbara B. said...

Hahaha! :)

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