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The Standing Rabbit

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery is a 325-page softcover published by Europa Editions, first published in 2006, this copy is the tenth printing of 2009. The cover has a small impression mark and sticker residue.  Inside, the pages are clean and the binding is tight.  The condition is very good.

Book Summary

We are in an elegant hotel particulier in the center of Paris.  Renee, the building's concierge, is short, ugly, and plump.  She has bunions on her feet.  She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps.  Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo.  In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood.  But Renee has a secret:  she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture.  With biting humor she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants--her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth.

Then there's Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor.  Talented, precocious, and startlingly lucid, she has come to terms with life's seeming futility and has decided to end her own on her thirteenth birthday.  Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop sub-culture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter.

Paloma and Renee 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 new tenant arrives, a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu.  He befriends Paloma and is able to see through Renee's timeworn disguise to the mysterious event that has haunted her since childhood.  This is a moving, witty, and redemptive novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

ISBN:  978-1-933372-60-0


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