In an upscale Parisian apartment building, a suicidal girl makes friends with an ill-tempered concierge.
It may not sound like much of a plot, but "The Elegance of the Hedgehog" is a fascinating novel so full of philosophical insights that even a second reading may not bring out its full potential. I haven't been this intrigued by a book since I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It's a simple, yet elegant, story full of interesting characters.
And yet, I didn't altogether like it.
My first complaint deals with the two main characters, both of whom are so condescending that it's nearly impossible to relate to them. It's only by the end of the story that the reader is able to form a bond with either of them.
And there is my second complaint...the ending. I can't help but feel as though the writer gave up. It was as if she couldn't envision a way to make her characters happy, so she opted for the opposite by offering a Jody Picoult-style ending.
But although I'm giving this book only three out of five stars, I still recommend reading it. There are parts when the prose soars, and much of the observations will stay with the reader for a long time. It is a beautifully-written novel.