I persisted with this book for about a third of its length as I thought it MUST surely improve and engage me, but it didn't. The reviewer who said that it's like being trapped in a corner with a first-year philosophy student hit the nail on the head. I just wanted to escape!
Retired RN. Listen to about 4 audiobooks a month. "The only important thing in a book is the meaning that it has for you" & a good narrator.
The summary of this book had potential. The audible reviews I read were good but boy was I mislead. I didn't like this book. I'm just not intellectual enough. I don't like philosophy and 45% of this book is philosophy. 15" rambling on the meaning of a kitchen table. Pretentious people. Trick ending. Good narration but would have been better if they had French accents as it takes place in Paris. Not for my average mind.
This tale of two women--or, rather, a woman and a girl--is indeed masterful. Each is not as she might appear on the surface, and the appreciation each has for the world in which she finds herself is wry and delightful. Fascinating to see the apparently dumpy concierge finally showing her true plumage as an unusual romance comes her way, while the child finds herself finally coming to appreciate the life given her as she finds herself caught up in her new friend's life.
Seeing these two each blossoming in the heart of a Parisian apartment complex is indeed a joy.
Tangential, eclectic, avid listener... favorite book is the one currently in ear.
Put me to sleep repeatedly as I started the book... only Moby Dick has worked better. I wondered how it had ever been published considering the initial lack of plot and endless mental tangents. The characters however, do grow on you and I stayed up late in order to finish the charming and unexpected 2nd part. Came away with some delightful insights. Those who might find even more joy in the book would be lovers of: Russian literature, still life paintings, Japanese cuisine, complex minds, tea and of course, all things French.
I know this book never would have never held my attention had I read it myself. The two narrators really brought it to life for me. Elegance of a Hedgehog is an engaging and often-times humorous story about misfits finding one another and trying to make not only sense of, but peace with the world that they live in. There are a few flaws (some of the characters' philosophical musings are bone dry), but overall the story really held my interest.
This book was chosen as our November read in my book club. After 3 tries, I gave up reading it, just could not get into it. After some grief by the other members, I decided to just purchase it and try with the audio version. Very happy I did. From the first minute of listening to Barbara Rosenblat I was hooked. When it switch over to Casandra Morris, the book really came to life. I think the book lost a little of its interpretation in the translation from French to English, and then again to the audio, but was still a very good read. I try not to analize books to death and just appreciate the story for what it is. I found it very sweet and touching, the 3 main characters very endearing and left me with a hope that they would continue their friendship. Well worth it, enjoyed it very much.
I should probably blame myself and my high expectations, but this was a big disappointment:
I found no literary value in the book - the characters are stereotypes. Both protagonists didn't draw empathy of any kind, and weren't interesting enough to either captivate or challenge.
The ideas are superficial - mass pseudo- philosophy for teenagers, and they are brought into the story line in the most simplistic manner.
A book that aspires to bring to life protagonists of exceptional intelligence should be deeper and more convincing.
Barbara Rosenblat has a huge following for her audiobook reading. But in this case she actually spoiled the book immensely for me. Her interpretation of Rene didn't come close to what I felt when I originally read the book. It was over the top and melodramatic. It seemed that she was more interested in her performance than the content or character. Kinda like many people who drag out the singing of the national anthem to show off their voice.
Sadly it seems that this a trend. Having listened to books for more than 20 years I can see it. At first it was a revelation when readers put some drama like an actor into the reading. But it has gone way beyond that. Also some of the readers are playing the same character no matter what book they are reading.
I very rarely stop listening before I finish but I just couldn't go on. Especially since this is such a lovely & deep book.
I found the 2 readers of this book to be perfect. They enhanced a great story. I believe this to be the rare book that I prefer in audio format. Very French!