I read lots, and lots, and lots of books. Every once in a while I come across a book that sticks with me. I mark pages and write down quotes of scenes or passages or dialogue I want to remember. I realized there’s a common theme running through most of these pieces I’m drawn to. It’s usually an example of a fictional character learning to be themselves, coming in to their own, or accepting some part of themselves. It’s typically all about being open-hearted. Today is the first of the what will hopefully be many Book Heart columns.
Book Heart: The Elegance of the Hedgehog
By Muriel Barbery
I picked up and put down this book maybe five times over that many years. For whatever reason, whenever I did my annual paring down of the overflowing bookshelves, I held on to it. Something about the cover, the person who’d recommended it to me… I just wasn’t ready to let it go. I’m so glad I didn’t.
It turned out to be one of those books that makes you want to sop up every last word and phrase. The plot revolves around the lives of two unexpected friends: Renee an apartment building “concierge” in France and Paloma a young girl who lives in the building. Neither believes that there’s a place in the world for their real self. They construct a whole facade trying to get by as the people they believe they’re supposed to be. Slowly the real hearts break through, and it’s quite a joy to witness. Enjoy!