The Elegance of the Hedgehog
by Muriel Barbery


It’s a story of a protagonist who works in the hospitality industry. At her job, she goes about observing people and making snide comments about society.

Even though the premise is very simple, the prose is quite dense. I think that if you can get past it, it’s a compelling take on class struggle and banality, a certain freshness to it.

Link to Goodreads page

As a novel written by a French author Muriel Barbery, the “typical” French plot is in full effect, where the story suddenly climaxes and ends. The turn of events left me feeling and confused, like being told a sick joke, unsure if I’m supposed to be offended or not on the protagonist’s behalf. I think this is great and I’ve never felt so betrayed by a single line. There are no illusions about the fragility of human ego.

I happen to be in an emotional mood, so I started crying near the end. I think the child deuteragonist gave me a forsaken hope, someone who was at first just a depressed bystander, and later evolved to play a support role in the plot.

L’ Elegance du Herisson is definitely worth a read for the celebration of small victories, even if you’re not a Philosophy major. I believe it has a good balance of abstract and concrete imagery and symbolism, but if you hate pretentious self-deprecation, then avoid this pretentious book!

Verdict: 5 / 5

Fun Stats

Word Count: 81584
Average Readability (US Grade Level): 9.25
Percent dialogue: 10.78%

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