I am currently reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, and it is “a jewel of a book” as my mother-in-law emphatically put it. Originally written in French, L'Élégance du hérisson, was superbly translated into English by Novelist Alison Anderson. The book is about deception, perception, words and beauty: the pretenses we put up as a defense mechanism, how we choose to see what we want to see in order to protect our beliefs, the sublime meaning of words and the beauty found in simple things.
It was given to me as a gift by a friend, and I have fallen in love with the way it is written, the portrayal of the characters - especially that of the main ones, the mood it sets, and mostly what it does to me.
Normally, when I read a book that I enjoy I will inhale it, unable to stop till I reach the very end. This one is different in that I can only read up to a few chapters in one sitting because it overwhelms me with inspiration. Every time I read this book, my head becomes inundated with creativity and I must get up and look at one of my decorating books, think of a new recipe to test, start to write a new story, imagine ways to rearrange the rooms in my flat, call my sister or a friend to talk, look at my enormous inventory of fabrics and wonder what sewing project I can start, check the meaning and grammatical usage of a word on the internet… it just does not stop - therefore, I simply can not read The Elegance of the Hedgehog in one sitting for fear that my head will explode.
The style in which the book is written and Ms. Barbery’s usage of words is so intoxicating that it gives me a heady feeling for, I too, love the power of words and the emotions they evoke when properly used; by no means am I near her level, but I do admire a well-written piece and even though English is my second language, I constantly strive to attain a better grasp of the written word.
Nonetheless, I am thoroughly enjoying this book and highly recommend buying a copy.