Tag Archives: Drama

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Book Review: 2 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Europa Editions (September 2, 2008), Paperback: 336 pages, ISBN-13: 978-1-933372-60-0

Paloma is looking for a reason to keep living and at times she thinks she may have found it only to realize, that no, that is not good enough. Renee is cynical and she is reiterating her dim view of life, with only her art as the highlight. Both characters are completely different, yet each is searching for meaning.

Muriel Barbery is a French novelist and The Elegance of the Hedgehog was originally written in French and is a novel of ideas. The story is told with a first person narrative that alternates between the two main protagonists. Renée Michel is a 54 year old concierge (landlady) of an upper middle class apartment building. Paloma Josse is a 12 year old girl, who lives in one of the apartments.

Both the characters are living a lie; they are pretending to be less than what they really are because neither feels they will be accepted. Numerous times Ms. Barbery uses exaggeration as a means of portraying her point. It was obvious that the book had been translated from French into English because the language selected for numerous words are not commonly used, for example Renee refers to her apartment as a loge. There are some pretty profound thoughts and observations in the final chapter, with both characters experiencing epiphanies.

Although the story slowly unfolds, the book concentrates more on the internal dialogue of each of the characters as they examine the meaning of life then on actual plot. However, things do pick up in the last quarter of the book. There is a lot of philosophising in this book by both characters and at times, Paloma seems much older and far more cynical than most twelve year olds. The story also has both a sad yet uplifting ending. The book is not for everyone, but if you enjoy analyzing life, then you should give this book a try.

My favourite quote: Moments like this act as magical interludes, placing our hearts at the edge of our souls: fleetingly, yet intensely, a fragment of eternity has come to enrich time. Elsewhere the world may be blustering or sleeping, wars are fought, people live and die, some nations disintegrate, while others are born, soon to be swallowed up in turn-and in all this sound and fury, amidst eruptions and undertows, while the world goes its merry way, bursts into flames, tears itself apart and is reborn: human life continues to throb.

  To Purchase: “The Elegance of the Hedgehog” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese

Book Review: 4 Treasure Boxes
Publisher: Random House Audio (February 3, 2009), Audible Audio Edition, Listening Length: 23 hour(s) and 58 min. (667 pages), ASIN: B001RMWBFC

WOW!! An engrossing story centering on love and redemption.  Twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone are born in 1952 at a small missionary hospital in Ethiopia. Initially, conjoined, their birth resulted from the unlikely union of an Indian nun and a talented but aloof British Doctor.   This is a 360° view of their life as shown through the eyes of one of the twins.

Cutting for Stone is a wonderful first novel written by Abraham Verghese. He is a medical doctor, with Indian parents and he was raised in Ethiopia near Addis Ababa. It is told in the first person narrative with the voice of Marion, and sometimes it takes on a third person narrative when Marion is telling his mother or father’s story.

The setting is primarily in Ethiopia and we experience the turmoil that was going on in that country.  We also get a hint of what life was like there including a glimpse of the Ethiopian people. This is a beautiful story; painted with vivid and stunning word pictures. Mr. Verghese medical background adds an interesting dimension to this narration as Marion’s character develops as a Doctor.  He weaves together an incredible tale with phenomenal character development. The story swung full circle and although sombre it was still satisfying.

I highly recommend this novel. It has all, it made me laugh, it made me cry.  Although the ending was surprising and somewhat sad, it was still great.

My Favourite Quote from the book: “Wasn’t that the definition of home? Not where you’re from, but where you’re wanted.”

To purchase: “Cutting for Stone” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

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Toxic Bachelors by Danielle Steel

Book Review: 1 Treasure Box
Publisher: Random House Audio,Listening Length: 10 hours and 26 minutes (336 pages), ASIN: B000BVGTU8

The book was mildly entertaining and the characters were ok, but not as well rounded or defined as I would have liked.  The story centers on 3 male friends who are all very different from each other but they have a bond and they spend each summer together cruising on a luxury yacht meeting girls and partying.

It was fun to read about life on the yacht.  The story shows the progression of relationships with each of the guys as they meet various different girls in their travels both on and off the yacht.  I could not really understand the name of the book and how it relates to the story as I did not feel all the characters were “Toxic”.

The book was pretty mediocre and transparent but the ending was satisfying

To Purchase: “Toxic Bachelors” from Amazon, click here or on picture above

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