Author: Muriel Barbery
Book: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
Language: Translated from French
Publisher: Gallic Books, 2008
A writer friend of mine urged me to read this book, so when I saw it in the airport bookshop I decided it would keep me company for the flight home from Barcelona. My copy has a beautiful cover, with dreamy-coloured French houses in twilight, a stained-glass window effect and (appropriately) elegant text. Humour and levity balance the profound thoughts of life, culture and the delicacy of human interactions.
The characters' speech is nuanced just so, and the travails of everyday life are expressed in sure, deliberate prose. Barbery's supporting characters could easily have been empty caricatures, but each contributes to the atmosphere of Renee's Paris. The book is charming and accessible, and French down to the spine.