I've been listing the books I'm reading for a while now, but I though I would start commenting on how I found each book as I finish it. It won't be a review as such, that's nowhere near a strength of mine, it will be purely my opinion. If you're like me, take it with a pinch of salt, for we all know that each one of us finds the exact same taste, place, experience, view and read completely different.
I had not heard of this book before buying it. I wandered into Dymocks one lunchtime and wandered through the shelves. The title pulled me in and I wanted to know if it was in fact about a hedgehog. The blurb read "Renee is the concierge of a Grand Parisian building on the Left Bank. To the residents she is honest, reliable and uncultivated - an ideal concierge. But Renee has a secret. Beneath this conventional facade she is passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her self-important employers.
Down in her lodge, Renee is resigned to living a lie; meanwhile several floors up, twelve year old Panoma Josee is determined to avoid a predictably bourgeouis future, and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday.
But the death of one of their priviledged neighbours will bring dramatic change to number 7, Rue de Grenelle, altering the course of both their lives forever."
Now I confess that this didn't draw me in all that much, until I reached the reference to 7, Rue de Grenelle. When Geoff and I were married, we honeymooned in Europe for 6 months before settling in London. One of our first stops was Paris, where we stayed with a dear friend I'd met years earlier in the US. That is a wonderful story in itself, but the connection was in the fact that at that time Christelle lived at 23 Rue de Grenelle, which is in fact in the area of Paris were many of the embasssies are located, so indeed, quite lovely. I bought the book on this connection alone.
It is quite esoteric to begin with, in its subject matter. There are many philosophical references and the main character is discussing her impressions about phemonology, about which I know nothing and therefore found the discourse a little dull. The book is written in two voices, of Renelle and Paolma, and really got me in as it progressed. Neither is an average person, although who is us is?
It was a book full of passages I felt compelled top frustrate Geoff with by reading aloud, there were real connections in many of the thoughts characters discussed. General philosophical ramblings on love, life, ageing, friendship, many of which I've underlined in pencil. There were discussions in this book that have stayed with me for days, provoked much thought and thoughtfulness.
I'd recommend this one and I'll be searching out other works by Muriel Barbery.