GROUP READ: The Elegance of the Hedehog
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I'm also finding this book very dense. Enjoying it so far (though I'm just a few chapters in), but my concentration isn't optimal lately and getting my head around some of the concepts they're talking about is more than I'm able to do, so I just let some of it wash over me.
FYI - my translation had her as a concierge.
I liked the mix of human drama and the subterfuge of clever characters.
As for the discussion on concierge, certainly it is not unusual in British English - there is one at my mum's work. It is a word that I associate with big cities, like Paris or London.
I found most of the book very insular, but really enjoyed getting to know Renee and Paloma near the end. I found the ending very sudden and quite unexpected, but moving. Paloma's thoughts were often beautifully observed and thought provoking however, especially earlier in the book, Renee's reflections were quite dense and I found it much harder to engage with her. Overall I have mixed feelings.
Sorry, that was a bit of a jumble! I'll post a review at my thread once I have time to sit down and write it. Overall I liked it more than I thought I would. I was planning to read the book and then get rid of it, but now I'm not so sure.
One question for anyone who read this in French (I read it in English): are Palmoa's poems haikus in the French? In English they're not, but I suppose a translator can only do so much. :)
I slogged through the first 150 pages, but found the parts about the relationship between Renee and Ozu were just lovely and made up for the truly dreadful and stuck-on ending. Did the author just get tired of writing the book?
Incidentally, a good friend of mine read it and while she didn't love it, she won't hear criticisms of the book because it introduced her to Ozu's films, which she says are every bit as good as Renee says they are.
#32 Sorry I only just saw your comment now... In the French, I suppose Paloma's poems are haikus, but it's hard for me to know what a haiku is exactly (even though I have been known to write my own), since the Japanese system of syllables is so very different from the English or French concepts. Not sure that answers your question satisfyingly, but I tried. :-)
#33 Agreed, I loved the interaction between Mr Ozu and Renée, and also that the ending seemed stuck on. My mum who read it a while back (and who incidentally lives in France) said the same thing about the ending too. I personally think Barbery basically wrote herself into a corner and didn't know how else to end it. I also have another opinion, but not in the mindset to express it properly right now, so I'll keep it for when I get the courage up to write a proper review!