Elegance of the Hedgehog

I’m counting this as the very first book of the summer, even though it was finished in April.  This book happened to be my first suggestion as well, from a friend who also appreciates a good read.

Upon first seeing this book, I was intrigued.  How can a hedgehog be elegant?  Why is there a picture of a girl on the cover?  To get some answers, I cracked open the front cover to read the blurb and was pleasantly surprised.  I nearly had to pull out my dictionary as I read the few short paragraphs that were doing their job of hooking me in.  Never in my life had I found such wonderful language in only the description.  And to top that, it was translated into English from French.

Overall, I found the plot fairly easy to follow.  You the reader are following the thoughts of a concierge and the musings of a twelve your old girl who live in the same building in France, both of whom are light years beyond what society would deem a normal intelligence level.  Both of these characters are also doing their best to appear of normal intelligence.  My big hook into the book was finding that the twelve-year-old wanted to commit suicide by her thirteenth birthday.  I started off reading because I wanted to know if she did follow through.  That, and her reasons for doing so were interesting.  Without giving too much away, I was most surprised by then ending of the book.  To find out why, hit up your local library branch.

The best part of this book was the lush descriptive language M. Barbery utilized.  Where else would I find such words as eructation, hubris, and my personal favorite, cantankerous?  Having to actually pull up the dictionary.com app on my smart phone gave me a smug, satisfactory feeling inside.  When was the last time I was teaching myself new things while reading for pleasure?

I would like to share my favorite passage, also a good example of the descriptive language utilized by M. Barbery.  And it doesn’t give anything away:

I remember the summer rain.

Do you know what a summer rain is?

To start with, pure beauty striking the summer sky, awe-filled respect absconding with your heart, a feeling of insignificance at the very heart of the sublime, so fragile and swollen with the majesty of things, ttrapped, ravished, amazed by the beauty of the world.

And then, you pace up and down a corridor and suddenly enter a room full of light.  Another dimension, a certainty just given birth.  The body is no longer a prison, your spirit roams the clouds, you posses the power of water, happy days are in store, in this new birth.

Just as teardrops, when they are large and round and compassionate, can leave a long strand washed clean of discord, the summer rain as it washed away the motionless dust can being to a person’s soul something like endless breathing.

This the way a summer rain can take hold in you—like a new heart, beating in time with another’s.

I don’t know if it was because I read this passage as I was flying over the Irish sea and landing at London Heathrow on a misty day, but something about it resonated within me.  As the book does deal mostly with philosophical thoughts and musings, I can imagine other readers will find their own passages similar to this.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Kristin Brænne
    May 16, 2011 @ 16:05:10

    Be a ★ !


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