I'm afraid I'm going to be a bit of a shadow figure for the next couple of weeks. I've just moved house and won't be able to get fixed up to the Internet until at least 11th March. I'm currently writing this is an Oxford pub, and whilst I have no objections to this, I doubt if the bar man would be too happy if I became a resident reviewer at one of his tables .... although, I don't know, I could become a tourist attraction.
Watch this space .....
Anyway, boring you about my Internet, or lack thereof, is not the point of this post. I intend to talk to you about a beautiful novel that I have just finished.
This is 'The Elegance of the Hedgehog' by Muriel Barbery, and has been translated from the French. I don't normally read literature in translation - there's far too much originally written in English that I have to make my way through, that I just don't have the time. This however, is a secret gem. Quietly unassuming, and at the beginning a bit hard going (as if trying to prove a point), it blossoms into a beautiful piece of writing that captures the imagination and the heart.
The plot revolves around two central characters - Renee, the concierge to an expensive block of apartments, who struggles to hide her true, intellectual, self behind an uneducated stereotype, and Paloma - a twelve year old resident, who is a genius, determined to kill herself but not before having some profound thoughts. These two unlikely compatriots are brought together and enrich each others lives, whilst also changing their views of the world around them.
I have been converted to translated literature through this book. I didn't think it was possible to love something so much, and be so heartbroken at the way it turned out as I was. I was so sure I knew what the denouement would entail, and when the total reverse happened, I was truly shocked. It's a wonderful book, and if you haven't read it, you really should go in search. It's elegance is truly mesmerising.