The elegance of the hedgehog

Muriel Barbery

Publisher :Québec Amérique

Key Emotion Indicator

The story revolves mainly around the characters of Renée Michel and Paloma Josse, residents of an upper-middle class Left Bank apartment building at 7 Rue de Grenelle – one of the most elegant streets in Paris. Divided into eight luxury apartments, all occupied by distinctly bourgeois families, the building has a courtyard and private garden. The widow Renée is a concierge who has supervised the building for 27 years. She is an autodidact in literature and philosophy, but conceals it to keep her job and, she believes, to avoid the condemnation of the building's tenants. Likewise, she wants to be alone to avoid her tenants' curiosity. She effects this by pretending to indulge in concierge-type food and low-quality television, while in her back room she actually enjoys high-quality food, listens to opera, and reads works by Leo Tolstoy and Edmund Husserl. Twelve-year-old Paloma lives on the fifth floor with her parents and sister whom she considers snobs. A precocious girl, she hides her intelligence to avoid exclusion at school. Dismayed by the privileged people around her, she decides that life is meaningless, and that unless she can find something worth living for, beyond the vacuousness of bourgeois existence,she will commit suicide on June 16, her thirteenth birthday. Planning to burn down the apartment before dying, she also steals her mother's pills. A cultured Japanese businessman named Kakuro Ozu, whom Renée and Paloma befriend, then takes a room in the same apartment building. Ozu comes to share Paloma's fascination with Renée: that the concierge has the same simple refinement as the hedgehog.

Pour tous les jours


To my acquaintances

Easy to read


Less than 10$

A few hours



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