Guest Review: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

One of my good friends read my copy of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  They really enjoyed the book and I asked them if they would like to write a few words as a pseudo-guest review for this blog.  Now, they do not have a blog of their own, but I assure you, they are a real person who reads a lot and enjoys good literature and science fiction/fantasy. So, here are their thoughts:


The Elegance of the Hedgehog – M. Barbery; Europa Editions

It has been quite a while since I have read a book like “The Elegance of the Hedgehog.”  I say this in the most positive sense. However, this book is not for everyone. It is not a fast action thriller or sci-fi, nor does it abide by the general categorizations that we readers so often encounter.

I digress as I try to classify it; and the novel would probably be placed in general contemporary fiction. Though it is general, there is nothing general or common about it. It has so many layers that throughout my reading it seemed to unveil and disclose a different perspective.

As I tried sifting and synthesizing the different perspectives, I realized that the brilliance of this book lies in the very fact that I could take from it that it was an examination into the meaning of life, or a contemplation of aesthetics and Beauty, or a reflection upon the social and cultural aspects, or a discourse on modern day thought and societal struggles, or a literary extrapolation of different philosophical schools at play, etc.

That being said, I would admit that the style and tempo of the book may not be for everyone or the inevitable ending pointing towards a phenomenological existence. I am guessing that these elements may be a turn-off for many. However, my issue with the book was the lack of clear distinction between the two voices of the main protagonists in the story. I wanted each to come through more as being wholly theirs.

The book is full of witty, funny and insightful sentences, which I found myself contemplating at different times. Some references just creep up on me when I least expect it and it really amazes me how astute and discerning they are.

Whichever way you view or interpret this book, it is truly an enjoyable read. It is worth taking your time with it – be sure to let it sink in! It is a book that deserves to simmer and be savored.

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