In browsing lists of books set in Paris and France, I find that I've read quite a few already that fall into that category. I thought it might be fun to look back at those books this month.
I blame The Elegance of The Hedgehog for my inability to give up on books. At the half way point, I still wasn't loving this book and then something changed, it hooked me in some way. I became emotionally invested and by the end of the book, I was ugly crying. The copy I read was from the library so I don't have a copy. Right now. But I would really love to read this one again and see if I appreciate the beginning of the book more, knowing where it is going. Here's what I had to saw about it after I'd read it:
This felt like two books to me and it wasn't because the story alternates between narration by Renee and narration by Paloma. The first one-third plus of this book is Barbery introducing us to our two narrators by means of philosophical musings. It is very obvious that Barbery is a professor of philosophy. It is difficult going and, although it serves to give us a feel for Renee and Paloma, it is so slow moving I seriously considered giving up on this one before I hit the halfway mark.
That would have been a mistake because after that point, the story got going. I finally began to care for Renee and Paloma. Prior to that, I really didn't care for either of them--Renee goes to great pains to be the very person she feels the owners in the building will look down on then despises them for looking down on her.
Once Mr. Ozu arrives, things start happening and we really start to understand some of the things that Paloma and Renee have been discussing earlier in the book. I'm glad I stuck with this one. In the end, I really loved the book and got, let's be honest, a little emotional.