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Powell's Q&A | September 3, 2014

Emily St. John Mandel: IMG Powell’s Q&A: Emily St. John Mandel

Describe your latest book. My new novel is called Station Eleven. It's about a traveling Shakespearean theatre company in a post-apocalyptic North... Continue »
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    Station Eleven

    Emily St. John Mandel 9780385353304

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The Elegance of the Hedgehog


The Elegance of the Hedgehog Cover


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Average customer rating based on 78 comments:

Karen Kay, August 28, 2013 (view all comments by Karen Kay)
This was one of the most enjoyable books I've read in a long time. A thoughtful balance of humor and wit, sobering realism, and provocative social commentary presented by two seemingly different, yet philosophically similar perspectives of a 54 year old widowed concierge and a 12 year old daughter of a well-to-do family who live in same the building. This book's well written, highly intelligent prose follows a leisurely pace with a gentle charm that engages the heart along with the mind.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Barbara Campbe, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by Barbara Campbe)
Great book. One to be read many times.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
Liesl Andrico, January 2, 2013 (view all comments by Liesl Andrico)
This book is a wonderful read, full of literary delight and delicious vocabulary. It's written in two voices: Rene, a concierge for a building; and Paloma, a young occupant in the building. The topics covered are vast and varried presenting many thoughtful, hilarious, and poignant moments. I loved this book and the subtle exploration of what it means to be expose your potential fully to the world.
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cravingkiwi, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by cravingkiwi)
Loved the characters, loved the story. Beautifully written and translated. You see yourself in the well-read and intelligent concierge who hides behind a veil of stereotype, the young girl who has lost interest in life, and in the kind Japanese man who brings them together. Best book I read in 2012!
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David Siller, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by David Siller)
It is laugh-out-loud funny, moving, haunting and captivating. The prose is delicious, and you'll wish you knew the characters in real life.
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(2 of 4 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

Barbery, Muriel
Europa Editions
Anderson, Alison
Apartment concierges - France - Paris
Apartment dwellers - France - Paris
Literature-A to Z
Edition Description:
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
September 2008
Grade Level:
from 12
7.75 x 5.06 in 1 lb
Age Level:
from 18

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Related Subjects

Featured Titles » General
Featured Titles » Literature
Featured Titles » Staff Picks
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Literature » Featured Titles

The Elegance of the Hedgehog Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$10.50 In Stock
Product details 336 pages Europa Editions - English 9781933372600 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is a study in the dichotomy of the hidden inner self versus outer perceptions. Paloma and René are each careful to build a facade that hides their true nature from the world. Until a new tenant moves into their building, this plan has worked well — but no longer. What happens when you meet someone who can see who you really are? Littered with dozens of literary, art, and music references, this quiet novel is a treat for lovers of culture. Beautifully written, poignant, and so very bittersweet.

"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "This dark but redemptive novel, an international bestseller, marks the debut in English of Normandy philosophy professor Barbery. Renee Michel, 54 and widowed, is the stolid concierge in an elegant Paris hotel particulier. Though 'short, ugly, and plump,' Renee has, as she says, 'always been poor,' but she has a secret: she's a ferocious autodidact who's better versed in literature and the arts than any of the building's snobby residents. Meanwhile, 'supersmart' 12-year-old Paloma Josse, who switches off narration with Renee, lives in the building with her wealthy, liberal family. Having grasped life's futility early on, Paloma plans to commit suicide on her 13th birthday. The arrival of a new tenant, Kakuro Ozu, who befriends both the young pessimist and the concierge alike, sets up their possible transformations. By turns very funny (particularly in Paloma's sections) and heartbreaking, Barbery never allows either of her dour narrators to get too cerebral or too sentimental. Her simple plot and sudden denouement add up to a great deal more than the sum of their parts. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review A Day" by , "Renee and Paloma are brought together by their mutual fascination with the building's new tenant, Kakuro Ozu, who sees through their carefully constructed identities — which he does simply by refusing to believe that a concierge and a child are second-class citizens. Between the three of them, their appreciation for the whole of art — literature, painting, film, even fine food — allows them to transcend the walls of class, race, age, and gender." (read the entire review)
"Review" by , "With its refined taste and political perspective, this is an elegant, light-spirited and very European adult fable."
"Review" by , "[A] quiet, graceful book....[I]t leaps to soaring heights — movingly and beautifully....The strength of The Elegance of the Hedgehog is Barbery's ability to create characters that come alive with each thought, gesture and literary reference."
"Review" by , "Even when the novel is most essayistic, the narrators' kinetic minds and engaging voices (in Alison Anderson's fluent translation) propel us ahead."
"Review" by , "The Elegance of the Hedgehog is one of those novels that hangs around in your head for quite a while after you've put it down. An enjoyable read."
"Review" by , "The plot thins at moments and is supplanted with philosophical discourse on culture, the ruling class, and the injustices done to the poor, leaving the reader enlightened on Kant but disappointed with the story at hand."
"Synopsis" by , In this enthralling international bestseller, two girls live inconspicuous lives in the center of an elegant Paris apartment building. It is only when a stranger moves into their building — and sees through the girls' disguises — that Paloma and Renee discover their kindred spirits.
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