If you wondered why you studied Liberal Arts in college rather than something more practical like engineering or ceramics, the French novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog is the reason. The novel is sprinkled with enough literary and philosophical references to make you feel really good about the money your parents spent on your fine education. (I remember Kitty, but who is Husserl?)
This funny and poignant novel concerns two residents of an upscale apartment building in Paris. Paloma, a precocious, suicidal twelve-year-old girl, and the building’s concierge, Renee, are misfits in their respective milieus. Both hide their intelligence and sophisticated interests behind the accepted stereotypes of their age and position.
The two outcasts might have lived forever in mournful isolation but for the appearance of a wealthy Japanese tenant. Keen-eyed Mr. Ozu spots potential soul mates in these two, and suddenly everything changes. A lovely book that I would happily reread.
NOTE: This is an ECW Classic Review, originally published in an earlier post or in NFocus Magazine. On occasion, I’ll republish a timeless review as a good read is never out dated!