Muriel Barbery’s ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ is one of the most beautifully written books I’ve ever read. Back in 2010 when I first read it I remember having a continual smile on my face for the three days or so that it took me to finish it from start to end. That may have had something to do with the fact that one of my best friends lent it to me, and thus it arrived filled with her signature scribblings in the margin and the typical nutella chocolate stain or two. Not only is the story itself bursting full of enlightened thoughts and philosophical characters, the pages too are brimming full of handwritten notes from a friend who floats through life on a very similar wave-length to me.
Now, three years older (and wiser?!), the book reads slightly differently. I can’t help but feel that my positivity is more on par with the characters in the book now, whereas before maybe I didn’t fully understand everything I read. This second time around there are messages shooting out left, right and centre at me and I feel I have to bookmark every page for a later date.
I don’t want to give any of the book away, as the words are such a treat to digest, and I most certainly won’t do them justice; rather, read it for yourself. It’s an easy read, with a very simple plot, and yet the issues brought up in the book are quite complex. Thanks to the whimsical, poetic prose though, it flows very easily and will honestly leave you grinning and feeling lighter, if only due to the dramatic nature of the younger protagonist (but trust me, she’s still a wise one).
I just want to share a few of my favourite snippets from the book and if you like what you read you can go buy yourself a copy and let me know what you think! Maybe we can start a ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ fan group…!
“Tea and manga instead of coffee and newspapers: something elegant and enchanting, instead of adult power-struggles and their sad aggressiveness.”
Image source: Lovely Elika
“When tea becomes ritual, it takes its place at the heart of our ability to see greatness in small things. Where is beauty to be found? In great things that, like everything else, are doomed to die, or in small things that aspire to nothing, yet know how to set a jewel of infinity in a single moment?”
“Art is life, playing to other rhythms.”
“This pause in time, within time…When did I first experience the exquisite sense of surrender that is possible only with another person? The peace of mind one experiences on one’s own, one’s certainty of self in the serenity of solitude are nothing in comparison to the release and openness and fluency one shares with another, in close companionship…”
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I still have a few more chapters left…
If you have any book recommendations, please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear what books are floating your boat right now. Thank you!
p.s Apparently there is a movie version?! Has anyone seen it? Is it any good?