Monday, February 16, 2009

the life of the mind

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)
Genre: fiction
Review: I can't quite explain why I liked this book. Most of it takes place in the minds of the main characters. One has a very non-ironic journal of profound thoughts to keep her (and us) in tune with her philosophical musings. Both characters, one a teenage girl and one a middle-aged concierge are eager to keep their intellectualism to themselves, while silently smirking at the people around them who aren't to know what goes on in the secret provinces of their thoughts. And yet, all of this is done with little evidence of conceit or pretension, which I found very refreshing.

The interior life of the mind is interrupted for both characters when a new tenant takes up residence in the building. He is able to discern the intellectualism lurking in both characters and begins to draw them both out. All of this is fine, but I was left asking myself how he was able to do this so effortlessly, and why he cared so much in the first place. Some of his story would not have been misplaced.

Other than this one slight misstep, I really enjoyed this book. The two characters are both delightful in their own way, and it was a pleasure to get a glimpse into their thoughts.

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