We are currently making improvements to the Audible site. In an effort to enhance the accessibility experience for our customers, we have created a page to more easily navigate the new experience, available at the web address www.audible.com/access .
 >   > 
The Elegance of the Hedgehog Audiobook

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Regular Price:$20.97
  • Membership Details:
    • First book free with 30-day trial
    • $14.95/month thereafter for your choice of 1 new book each month
    • Cancel easily anytime
    • Exchange books you don't like
    • All selected books are yours to keep, even if you cancel
  • - or -

Audible Editor Reviews

The Elegance of the Hedgehog tells the story of a life spent in hiding. Madame Michel is the concierge of a luxurious Parisian apartment building, tending to the plants, signing for packages, and polishing the brass, retreating when she can to her rooms on the first floor. She keeps a television blaring where the tenants can hear it; she zealously polices her speech and gestures to keep from giving herself away. What is the secret she hides? Madame Michel is an intellectual. She knows Kant, but she's separated by class from other people who do, so she discusses his work with herself while we listen in. Her musings are voiced by Barbara Rosenblat, who lends an air of theatrical irony — an auditory raised eyebrow — to her descriptions of class blind spots and philosophical rabbit holes.

The other pole of the story is Paloma Josse, a 12-year-old tenant in the building, voiced by Cassandra Morris with an appropriate measure of sarcasm and outrage. Paloma is a wildly precocious girl raised in privilege who has all the gifts of intellect and all the faults of a pre-adolescent. She's grandiose — she favors us with excerpts from a journal titled "Profound Thoughts". She's happy to throw stones at glass houses, and even plans to burn hers down, with the aim of teaching her family a pithy lesson about deprivation. She describes the currently deprived in terms that, while well-intentioned, condescend and distort. She is, in other words, a burgeoning intellect in serious need of the influence of an adult she can respect. An adult, perhaps, like the 54-year-old concierge on the first floor. But it takes more than a ride in an elevator to truly meet a woman who has spent her life in hiding. The novel takes two world views, both meticulously constructed from sound philosophical materials, and happily pulls them apart. —Rosalie Knecht

Publisher's Summary

An enchanting New York Times and international best seller and award-winner about life, art, literature, philosophy, culture, class, privilege, and power, seen through the eyes of a 54-year-old French concierge and a precocious but troubled 12-year-old girl.

Renee Michel is the 54-year-old concierge of a luxury Paris apartment building. Her exterior (short, ugly,and plump) and demeanor (poor, discreet, and insignificant) belie her keen, questing mind and profound erudition. Paloma Josse is a 12-year-old genius who behaves as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. She plans to kill herself on the 16th of June, her 13th birthday.

Both Renee and Paloma hide their true talents and finest qualities from the bourgeois families around them, until a wealthy Japanese gentleman named Ozu moves into building. Only he sees through them, perceiving the secret that haunts Renee, winning Paloma's trust, and helping the two discover their kindred souls. Moving, funny, tender, and triumphant, Barbery's novel exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

©2006 Editions Gallimard, Paris; (P)2009 Highbridge Company

What the Critics Say

"Gently satirical, exceptionally winning and inevitably bittersweet." (The Washington Post )
"An exquisite book in the form of a philosophical fable that has enchanted hundreds of thousands of readers." (Italian Elle)
"Kinetic minds and engaging voices." (New York Times Book Review)
"By turns very funny and heartbreaking". (Publishers Weekly)
"Life-affirming." (Time)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.7 (3537 )
5 star
 (1280)
4 star
 (978)
3 star
 (618)
2 star
 (346)
1 star
 (315)
Overall
3.8 (2390 )
5 star
 (928)
4 star
 (619)
3 star
 (430)
2 star
 (211)
1 star
 (202)
Story
4.2 (2366 )
5 star
 (1281)
4 star
 (591)
3 star
 (289)
2 star
 (94)
1 star
 (111)
Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    Olha V. Vandergriff 10-19-17 Member Since 2015
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    5
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "what a story! "

    You will laugh and you will cry. What a story! You will fall in love with the characters.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank 10-14-17
    Frank 10-14-17 Member Since 2012
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    8
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Read this book"

    Brilliantlt beautiful, poignant, sad and joyful story. The writing is exquisite. The narration is artfull.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne Durham, NC 07-15-17
    Anne Durham, NC 07-15-17 Member Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    12
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    97
    13
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    2
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Couldn't stand it"

    Why this pretentious exercise in existential angst has any readers at all is a mystery to me. The audio version aptly represents the self absorbed affectation of both main characters (ages 12 [understandable] and 54 [get over it!] but that is a small virtue. I listened for about 3 hours and simply could not stand it a minute more.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bren O'Dell 04-26-17
    Bren O'Dell 04-26-17 Member Since 2017
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    3
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "a true work of art"

    was iffy about the narration casting at first, but by the middle of the book I thought it was perfect to how the characters develop. this is a truly inspiring piece of literature, rich in observation and philosophy.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Susan 03-15-17
    Susan 03-15-17 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    73
    14
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Boring, Pretentious, and Self-indulgent"
    Would you try another book from Muriel Barbery and/or Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris ?

    Maybe


    Has The Elegance of the Hedgehog turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I can't even tell what this genre is.


    How could the performance have been better?

    Couldn't tell if the performance was annoying or the two characters were annoying. Mlle Michelle was pretentious and a closet snob who judges others as snobs, and the little girl was just really annoying. I actually had sympathy for her mother who you're actually not supposed to like but with a precocious brat like Paloma . . . . .


    What character would you cut from The Elegance of the Hedgehog?

    I'd have to cut both characters and then there'd be no story. If anything I would cut the very unsatisfying ending.


    Any additional comments?

    I listened to this book, I can't imagine how boring it would be to read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    bksellerguynj new jersey 02-20-17
    bksellerguynj new jersey 02-20-17 Member Since 2017
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    9
    5
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Amazingly beautiful"

    A wonderful experience listening to these two marvelous actors bring this moving story to life

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    E. Bellas 01-23-17
    E. Bellas 01-23-17
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    50
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Tedious!"
    What about Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris ’s performance did you like?

    The two narrators were the best thing about this book. I cared more about them than about the characters they portrayed.


    Any additional comments?

    I wanted to like this book, I really did. It was so tedious, though, that I could not get through the whole thing. I really wanted to find out what happened to the characters in the end, but the endless philosophizing was too much.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 01-21-17
    HELPFUL VOTES
    9
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    14
    11
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
    0
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Met My Friend Renée…"

    …a beautiful woman. Barbery drew me so completely into the mind of this beautiful woman that the tiniest cares and joys of her life brought me misery or ecstasy. I love her, her and the remarkable girl who lives just upstairs. Like me, so imperfect. Like me, so anxious to live life right. My heart is full, finishing this unforgettable novel.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    tjricoy 01-18-17
    tjricoy 01-18-17 Member Since 2016
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    10
    6
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A Life Capsule of Beautiful Experiences"

    This book is a Hail Mary of literature. A beautiful masterpiece is to it, what a cool finger painting is to Monet's Houses of Parliament.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sara 10-12-16
    Sara 10-12-16
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13111
    RATINGS
    REVIEWS
    457
    379
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    722
    3
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Stuck In A Quandary"

    If you read the reviews here you will notice a strong divide between lovers and haters of this book. I find myself in the odd position of agreeing with both of these extreme ends of the review spectrum. On one hand I thought the first part of the book was lecturing and posing in tone and that the narrators mispronounced many words. Then as the book progressed the whole feeling changed and I found myself really liking the story and thinking the narrators were good.

    I know this isn't much of a help if you are trying to decide on whether or not to try the book. I'm afraid that I am of two minds and will have to give it all three stars and stand right in the middle. Parts of the book and narration are excellent and deserve 5 stars and parts are just dreadful. I will say that in the end I was glad I gave it a try and stuck with it, but I'm also glad the book was on sale and that I didn't spend a credit.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Kimberley Julius
    London, United Kingdom
    10/22/14
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Awful narration"
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    The book is fabulous - it was read abysmally


    Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris ?

    Someone who can do a French accent


    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Colin Murphy
    2/6/11
    Overall
    "Elegance of the Hedgehog"

    Lovely book but it's set in Paris, so why not have French readers, instead we have the most awful screechy voiced American child that ruined the story - ugh.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • Anonyme
    Belgium
    3/15/10
    Overall
    "Cannot have enough of it!"

    There are books we enjoy, but also ones that we learn from and re-discover time after time.
    I have this book in print, bought the film and also in audio format. Never got bored of it and always want to read some parts over and over again.
    Simply great!!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Coco the Coo
    5/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Wonderful wonderful book"

    This book came highly recommended and it exceeded my high expectations.
    The story went right into me and I was very moved by it.
    Yes, it is a great book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • the typist
    2/27/10
    Overall
    "Exquisite"

    Wonderfully narrated, The Elegance of the Hedgehog took my breath away. Funny, charming, sad & poignant all at once. The story is simple but profound and the characters are delectable.

    2 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Tony
    7/24/17
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Excellent. I will read it again."

    I enjoyed the audio so much that I have purchased a hardback copy for rereading.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Kim
    MaarssenNetherlands
    9/22/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "First book I've ever left unfinished"

    I have tried this book over and over again, not willing to admit I couldn't finish it but in the end I gave up, not even halfway through. The story did not grip me at all and the narrator, especially the concierge, annoyed me intensely. It's all so presumptuous. I feel disappointed that I'll probably never know the story that others seem to like so much but reading - or trying to read- this book was nothing short of a burden.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Amazon Customer
    9/10/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A great book, well worth it"

    Just a great book from start to finish with interesting characters and storyline, kept me interested all the way through. I would suggest the others by Barbery too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Miss
    Berkhamsted, United Kingdom
    7/19/16
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Such a pity you couldn't have found French narrators"

    The story is excellent and I really enjoyed it, insightful with out being dogmatic. The narration was not bad but the actors don't speak French . It was a little incongruous to listen to critique of the different character's accents in American. Bilingual actors who would really improve this story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Roger Hopewell
    9/16/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Life enhancing"

    Gosh this is marvelous. Great performances doing justice to a beautiful, moving story. French, philosophical, elegant, funny and inspiring. Hope it works for you too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Report Inappropriate Content

If you find this review inappropriate and think it should be removed from our site, let us know. This report will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.

Cancel

Thank you.

Your report has been received. It will be reviewed by Audible and we will take appropriate action.