Monday, March 21, 2011

Book Review: L'élégance du Hérisson

I just finished L'élégance du hérisson by Muriel Barbéry.  (The English translation is The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and the Norwegian:  Pinnsvinets Eleganse.)
I saw the movie made from this book  before reading it, something that is rather unusual for me.  When a movie is adapted from a book, I prefer in general to read the book first.  One of the reasons is that I want to create my own pictures while reading.
Well, here it was ok.  Partly because I didn't mind carrying the movie's images with me, partly because I added lots of my own, since I already know the scene, - the upper class Parisian apartment building.
I love the language of this novel.  It's very elaborated, often even very difficult, and I couldn't possibly read this book while being tired or distracted, because whole streams of thought would get lost.  Whether this goes for the different translations, I wouldn't know, but the original, French text, is not an easy read.
As I already wrote, when I reviewed the movie, we meet Paloma (in the book she is 12, one year older than in the movie) who wants to kill herself, and who calmly and very accurately, describes the people around her.  Then there is Renée, the concierge, who doesn't want people to know how she really is: A woman who loves great literature,  Japanese movies and dark chocolate.  A woman who knows more about the arts and about life than most people, but who plays the role of an ignorant, non-educated and plain concierge, somebody not worthy of  being treated as a human being...  Well, one day young Paloma discovers her secret, that they are, in fact, twin souls, and then there is Kakuro Ozu, the friendly Japanese man who completes the picture.
Read this book.  Really, read it, and make sure to be well rested and alert while reading it.  There is so much.  So many thoughts, so many wonderful ways of looking at life.

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