The Elegance of the Hedgehog by French philosopher and novelist, Muriel Barbery, was the solution to a problem I’d had for quite a while. I had tried to read this book on several occasions and just “couldn’t get into it,” lost track, or just became bored. Listening to it in the audiobook format, however, kept me intrigued and compelled by the voices of the two masterful narrators.

One, Renee, a short, plump fifty-ish, purposefully dowdy concierge of “a bourgeois building in a posh neighborhood” was a persona to be reckoned with. She and her cat, Tolstoy, led a secret life.  Unknown to her tenants, Renee was knowledgable in art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture.

Paloma, her super-smart, twelve-year-old foil who lives with her family on the fifth floor,   does her very best to appear mediocre, when, in fact, like Renee, she is extraordinary. They are both in disguise! What blows their pretenses to smithereens is when Mr. Ozu, a wealthy Japanese man buys the building and moves in.

This is a “moving, witty and redemptive novel.” It deals with “quiet personal victories” that make the listener laugh, gasp, and cry at times.  The novel itself and the writing, specifically, are wonderful. This was one of the best “reading”/listening experiences I have ever had.


Author: Rae Longest

This year (2019) finds me with 50 years of teaching "under my belt." I have taught all levels from pre-K "(library lady" or "book lady"--volunteer) to juniors, seniors, and graduate students enrolled in my Advanced Writing class at the university where I have just completed 30 years. My first paying teaching job was junior high, and I spent 13 years with ages 12-13, the "difficult years." I had some of the "funnest" experiences with this age group. When I was no longer the "young, fun teacher," I taught in an elementary school setting before sixth graders went on to junior high, teaching language arts blocs, an assignment that was a "dream-fit" for me. After completing graduate school in my 40s, I went on to community college, then university teaching. Just as teaching is "in my blood," so is a passion for reading, writing, libraries, and everything bookish. This blog will be open to anyone who loves books, promotes literacy and wants to "come out and play."


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s