Teaser Tuesdays – The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Just do the following:

1. Grab your current read
2. Open to a random page
3. Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
4. BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
5. Share the title and author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

My teaser:

But I’ve been watching her, when she used to talk with Jean Arthens or when she talks to Neptune when Diane has her back turned, or when she looks at the ladies in the building who walk right by her without saying hello. Madame Michele has the elegance of the hedgehog: on the outside she is covered in quills, a real fortress, but my gut feeling is that on the inside, she has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary – and terribly elegant.

– page 139, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renée, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renée is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building’s tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence.

Then there’s Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.

Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma’s trust and to see through Renée’s timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

What I think of it so far:
I’m unsure what I think of it actually. The writing is incredibly elegant, but the prose is a little more heavy-going than I’ve read more recently (I’ve mostly stuck to rather light fare as I don’t have much reading time and can only snatch short moments here and there, which isn’t conducive to more thoughtful material much of the time). It is very good, but I find it’s taking longer to digest than my “fluffy pudding” novels from the young adult section of the library. Sometimes you just need a fine meal instead of a dessert…

32 responses to “Teaser Tuesdays – The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

  1. I loved The Elegance of the Hedgehog. 🙂 Enjoy your read!

    If you want to take a look, my teaser is here: http://abookblogofonesown.blogspot.com/2011/12/teaser-tuesday-6122011.html

  2. Interesting teaser! Never heard of that book so thanks for sharing.

    Check out my teaser!

  3. Very unique description and character; Great teaser!

  4. Very nice teaser… will have to look up this book now:) Thanks for visiting.

  5. Interesting teaser.

    Thanks for stopping by.

    Have a great TT 🙂

  6. interesting TT 🙂

  7. Such an interesting description to give a lady!

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting on my teaser.

  8. Thanks for sharing, fab teaser, this isn’t one i’ve heard of.

    Here’s my teaser of the week:


  9. Interesting teaser–doubt if anyone would compare me to a hedgehog. The title really got my attention!

    Here’s ours: http://ourstack.blogspot.com/2011/12/tuesday-teasers-3-this-week-2-non.html

  10. Very interesting teaser!

  11. A book I haven’t heard of, great teaser. Thanks for stopping by!

  12. OOOOH, I’ve never heard of this one, but that teaser is so terribly interesting. It really makes me want to read it ~

    Thank you for sharing and happy reading!

    Demi @ Breaking Bookshelves

  13. Oh, what a lovely teaser. Read this book. Its beautiful. One of my favorite reads in 2010.

  14. I’ve never heard of this one, but I love that teaser! I’m going to have to check it out! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

  15. I like how the teaser shows us the meaning of the title in the description of the “elegance of the hedgehog.”

    Thanks for sharing…I want to read this one!

    Here’s MY TT POST and

  16. I just cant see hedgehogs as elegant.

  17. This book has intrigued me for some time, hope to pick it up some day. Enjoy the rest of the book!

  18. Very interesting! Thanks for stopping by my home on the web.

    My Teaser Tuesday


  19. That’s an interesting teaser. Thanks for stopping by!

    Wit and Sin

  20. It does sound quite interesting and definitely elegant! I hope you’ll enjoy it. The teaser choice was great! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  21. Interesting teaser! I haven’t heard of this title before, thanks for sharing and for stopping by 🙂 x

  22. I haven’t heard of this book before but the teaser is definitely intriguing. I’ve never ever heard of a hedgehog called elegant but I guess they sort of are! Sometimes it really is nice to read a more thought-provoking book than the light fluffy stuff 😀

    I hope you enjoy it 🙂
    April @ My Shelf Confessions

  23. A book set in Paris? I LOVE IT!! 😉 I read lots more fluffy YA novels than super-serious ones too, but this one sounds really interesting!

    Awesome teaser this week! I hope you like the rest of the book even more!

  24. Really interesting teaser!
    This sounds like a very unique read.

    Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  25. Very interesting teaser! Thanks for sharing.

  26. I can tell just by the teaser that the writing is going to be beautiful! Thanks for stopping by!

  27. I can see what you mean about the elegant writing. This sounds like an interesting book.

  28. I’ve heard of this book before. I believe my cousin got it for some occasion. I hope you enjoy it and thanks for the teaser!

  29. Interesting teaser! Thanks for stopping by.

  30. I watched the movie – enjoyed it immensely, perhaps not to everyone’s tastes though, it’s very quirky and introspective, typically french.

  31. I like the way that’s put. Lovely teaser!

    Thanks for checking out mine! 🙂