A Musing: The Elegance of the Hedgehog

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The other night, I sat down to read this week’s installment of The Elegance of the Hedgehog for the read-a-long I’m participating in, and… I just couldn’t stop. I was so very captivated by the heart of this book. I will admit I’m quick to be moved to tears (I actually stopped wearing mascara a few years ago because I would be moved to tears so often I looked like a raccoon every day!) but it takes something huge to make me sob.

Well.

I cried the entire night reading this book,  I cried afterward.  I can barely look at my favorite quotes without choking up.  I cried and cried and cried! I haven’t cried like this since reading The Time Traveler’s Wife (but I think I cried more this time)!

In short – this means I loved this book. It’s now firmly placed in the shelf where my heart and soul books live. David Copperfield. A Little Princess. Anne of Green Gables. Jane Eyre.  I can’t wait to read it again.  It’s full of so much vulnerability and emotion and beauty and love. I think it contains the secret of life, in fact:

“. . . maybe that’s what life’s all about: there’s a lot of despair, but also the odd moments of beauty, where time is no longer the same . . . [like] something suspended . . . an elsewhere . . . an always within a never.

Yes, that’s it, an always within a never.”

If you haven’t read it yet, please do. If you have, did you react like me?

(Tea figures large within this book. And you all know how much I love tea. Wonderful print available on etsy)

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9 comments

    • jackiemania

      I didn’t feel the theme was hiding your intelligence, but rather an exploration of how sensitive people can live in this beautiful and distressing world, and really — how to become yourself in this beautiful and distressing world. The fact that the two main characters felt that they needed to hide their intelligence in order to get by was one of the sad things that moved me — but not to despise them. It broke my heart –to have the sort of experiences that make you feel that unsafe in the world.

      It also made me cry because of good things — the beauty of grammar and literature and tea and music and film. High and low and in-between (just like the people in the book).

      Also the part when Paloma and Renee really become friends, and the part when Ozu and Renee are out to dinner and he says “you are not your sister” was just sob sob sob sob sob!

      I also loved the philosophical/literary allusions (but they made me smile, not cry).

    • jackiemania

      Loved the movie — it was what got me interested in the book. The movie made me cry, too, but not as much as the book. If I had to choose, it would be the book, but I think they are both wonderful.

  1. Violet

    I love Elegance too, and for the same reasons you wrote in your response to Jenny. I don’t cry over books, but it spoke to me in so many ways. Not judging a person by their exterior & circumstances, that unknown possibilities exist if we are open to “what is”, and not giving up on life were strong messages for me. Just a wonderfully imagined and beautifully written book.

  2. JAHirsch

    This has been on my to-read list for ages, not solely because of the title but what a great title! Glad to hear you loved it, and if it’s anything compared to “Jane Eyre” then I really have to read it.

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