Property manager, Mom of 4 (almost grown), interested in historical novels, knitting, skiing, entertaining. I share with my husband who likes the mysteries and thrillers.
Very unresolved. Nice, interesting story, but no ending. The story begins to develop and with the development of the characters, the listener expects some type of interesting ending, but the story ends abruptly.
A sweet book about clear-seeing, i.e. seeing what is really in front of you whether beautiful or ugly, rather than what you want to see. It's also about a bunch of other things: class relations, art, philosophy, snobbery, meaning vs. meaninglessness, what true intelligence is, (and what is it good for?), and how people sometimes prevent themselves from finding true happiness.
All this sounds like a warm-fuzzy wrapped in a personal affirmation scented with camellias and delivered with sprinkly cupcakes to your frontdoor with a copy of Eat Pray Love, right? But the book cleverly counterbalances this with a healthy dose of skepticism and misanthropy.
The conclusions are still too easy/obvious sometimes, but I would rather a book risk the dangers of sentimentalism than sit comfortably on its sanitized throne of intelligent and secure discourse.
There is very little plot, but instead we get a series of monologues, philosophical asides and observations from two of the main characters. One is an elderly concierge, and the other is a precocious 12 year old girl. Both belong to that class of human beings that most other human beings ignore: they are invisible in the grand scheme of things. Yet under the surface, they live rich and imaginative lives.
I would say that there is a little bit too much black and white in this novel, though. I felt like the characters you were supposed to root for were a little too blameless and noble in their intentions, and the ones who were shallow ignoramuses were just that.
Especially true of this is the character of Kakuro Ozu, who is like some kind of angel of Eastern wisdom and exoticism meets Western intelligence and sophistication, without a blemish in sight. Don't get me wrong, I really liked the guy, but he didn't seem very real to me.
Their interpretation is beautiful. They really give character to Rene and Paloma, and I found funny that when they impersonate a Mr. Kakuro Ozu, both of them give him the same tone of voice, the same pace, that I found quite similar to a Morgan Freeman style of deep, friendly, wise old man.
It made me laugh, many times, and the end made me a little bit sad. And a little bit savvy.
I don't know if it is because I am picky, or because I follow some lists, listen to samples, read the critics; the case is that I've found here many excelent books, with amazing readers. I don't give five starts to the Elegance of the Hedgehog only because I am saving my five stars to some "oh-my-gosh-crazy-super-book and performance". That makes me an optimistic, thinking that I'll find better. :)
I have listened to this book at least 4 times and have loved it more each time. It is rich with physiology, surprises in plot and a dark side that continues to captivate and delight me. The readers are excellent and this book is an overall delight. Highly recommended
This is an interesting book. Like some of the other readers here, it took me a while to get into the story. There is a lot of thoughtful descriptions of class differences and some pondering on life and philosophy. These are kind of interesting, though I often drifted...the ending did make up for it, though. I really liked the young girl and her thoughts and observations. In the end, I was very glad that I finished the book. It has stayed with me. Another book of strong, independent women with interesting opinions who think for themselves.
I was drawn in immediately by the language. The characters were beautifully crafted and resonated as very real. Their problems were both universal and selective as defined by class.
A teensy semi-spoiler at the very end - FYI
The apartment building is a hive, with its layers of bees on each level. All know where they belong and where everyone else belongs. They are secure and in control. One change, one person, one apartment and the hive begins to lose the tensile strength that holds up the structure of who is who and where they belong.
The references to literature, philosophy, film and art were a delight. The author handles them with a delicate hand and is deft in making them a part of the character???s world.
I enjoyed the book very much until the end.
I deduct two entire stars for that worthless, trite and absolutely pi??tre qualit?? ending.
Former English major who loves to read.
A wonderful story. The character of Renee will stay with you for time to come. Richly drawn characters who are real and flawed and textured. The narrator is fantastic!! i'm only sorry she hasn't done more with Audible yet.
A sophisticated elegance of life as seen by astute characters wrapped in a story so real, that the reader becomes an invisible intruder. The characters don't need long introductions. Within a couple of minutes, we feel that we know them well. The language is precise and colorful in the Chekovian way. What a treat!
This writer LOVES to hear herself talk. These characters were so superficial and full of themselves. I wanted to stop listening after the first hour. I kept listening and hoping it would get better but it improved only slightly. The ending was awful. I do not recommend this book at all. The only saving grace was great narration.
Disclaimer: I only listened to the first half because I couldn't take any more.
The book is told from two people's points of view. Their lives couldn't be more different, but their outlook on life is the same, "I am better than everyone else, and here is why...".
This book would alter my good mood to an angry one. I love deep books that make you think, and I don't shy away from books that affect my mood because I become so immersed in the story. But this book was different -- it was bitter and angry, and it didn't just make me feel angry from relating, I was actively angry at the characters.
I also felt that it was poorly written - I would get annoyed with word choice (packed with $10 words, when a $1 word would have flowed more smoothly) and sentence structure. The way it was written was so uncomfortable, it was distracting.
So as I would walk away from negative people in real life, I walked away from this book.