Book Club: Elegance Week 2

Book Club: The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery – Week 2

Hosted by The Book Wheel and Love at First Book

Welcome to Week 2: Today-July 14 – Camellias Ch 10 (A Cat Called Roget) –  Profound Thought #11 (pages 80-170)

Soooo, how’s it going?  Liking it so far?

Please go ahead and start (or continue) the conversation!  Remember to come back to continue to respond to others who comment throughout the week (and month)!  Write as much or as little as you please, and don’t forget to link your own blog if you have one!

Only post about Camellias Ch 10-Profound Thought #11, please!  Spoilers totally allowed for those chapters, but no spoilers for the remainder of the book, please!  Save those for the later posts.

Haven’t finished Camellias Ch 10-Profound Thought #11 yet?  Come back when you’re done and join in the conversation!

There’s still plenty of time to join us if you want to!

Thanks for reading,

Rebecca and Allison


38 thoughts on “Book Club: Elegance Week 2

  1. This posted today and I was all worried thinking I was a day behind. Hahaha! I’m just finishing up the first section today–I’ll come back to this one in a few days.


  2. I read this book several years ago and liked it a great deal. I’m definitely not up-to-date on it, but enjoyed skimming your first week’s discussion.

    As luck would have it, this week “The Hedgehog,” the movie version of this book, showed up in my Netflix list, and I saw it last night. It’s a French movie, so I saw it with English subtitles. It’s a lovely movie, the actors are excellent. Paloma, in particular, is marvelous.


  3. Not surprisingly, I am still enjoying this book immensely. It still learning a lot of words, but I am more accustomed to the writing style now and am using my dictionary feature less. Plus, we learned what the title of the book means (having owned a hedgehog, I agree with the authors assessment of hedgehogism).

    A few things about section two stuck out for me. One is that there was a Profound Thought that involved the Japanese game Go amd I was a bit irritated with the suicide girl. She was becoming rather snobbish, but the attitude disappeared in the next Thought, so maybe it was just my own mood reflected in the book.

    This brings up the next thing that stuck out, which was when the suicide girl and Mr. Ozu were stuck on the elevator and began discussing the concierge. I found the observation that we never truly meet people because we seek out ourselves to be very true, even if we don’t like to admit it. Socially speakimg, it is safer to seek those we have things in common with, even if it means we miss out on other great people (which ties into the stereotyping conversation from last week).

    My favorite line from this section is the following, because its an eloquent way of saying procrastination is useless: “But if you dread tomorrow, it’s because you don’t know how to build the present, and if you don’t know how to build the present, you tell yourself you can deal with it tomorrow, amd it’s a lost cause anyway because tomorrow always ends up becoming today.”

    Needless to say, I’m looking forward to your thoughts and the next section!

    PS – I typed this on my mobile device, so please forgive misspellings and/or grammatical errors 🙂


    • I didn’t think that the teen came off as a snob while describing Go. The adult was wrong, but she was right. I thought it was good that she stood up for herself and corrected improper knowledge.

      I also think that we seek out people we are similar to because that’s what we are comfortable with, and who wants to be uncomfortable with friends? There’s a difference between seeking out people who are similar because you have a lot in common and can be friends easily and purposefully distancing yourself from differences. For instance, my husband and I have a harder time making good friends in our town in FL because many people hunt and fish, but we don’t do that. We have less in common with them, and therefore don’t click. But we’re not closed off to meeting new people.

      I also don’t think that the teen and Mr. Ozu are different. I think their similarities are what has brought them together, and I also think it’s how they will be able to get to Renee. In essence, it seems like they are drawn together by similarities, even if the similarities aren’t ones you might see on the surface.


      • I don’t think that she was snobby in her description of Go, it was the parts at the beginning of that Thought-section that she came off that way (Go was jus t a placeholder for the part of the book she was in). This is why I shouldn’t ever type long things on my mobile 🙂

        I really like Mr. Ozu and am looking forward to how his role expands throughout the book – I think he is going to be a great character!


    • as for the hedgehog title, I will quote some of my own review: “Of course, if you have never lived in a French apartment building with a “concierge”, this book may be difficult for you to appreciate in its full worth and beauty.
      The “concierge” is so often this very nosy woman who manages to know everything about everyone, and who’s often caught “spying” behind a curtain and all the comings and goings around her “kingdom”. I remember the most serious insult my mother [we are French] would give to someone a bit too nosy to her taste, by declaring: “Quelle concierge!” (“she’s so much like a concierge!”)
      So to remain true to the regular picture, Renée has this real “concierge” , hedgehog façade, symbolized and lived out in the 2 parts of her apartement: one with a noisy TV, set on a stupid channel, and a back room where she spends hours delighting in philsophy books and the like.”


  4. So, I’m really enjoying this book. I love the new neighbor and just know he’s related to (or is he the one???) who made the movies. I also like how he has kind of adopted our teenager, and I can’t wait for the two of them to meet and figure out Renee.

    I am learning new words galore: conatus, loge, abnegation

    One of my favorite scenes is where Renee is discussing how the doctor Chabrot ignores her all the time (until recently). She says, “The fact that my image can at one and the same time make an impression in Neptune’s skull and bounce off that of Chabrot altogether is indeed a fascinating concept.” What a way to say, “The doctor is ignoring me!”

    I was intrigued when Renee said “hold your rank or die.” This is very similar to what our teenager said, describing life as being synonymous with the military lifestyle. Any ideas on why they might both think this one? One of my thoughts is that they both are hiding who they are in a strict format, which can be compared to the strictness and thoroughness of military procedure.

    I loooooove the disgust of Renee regarding the improper use of punctuation by comparing the awful grammar of a rich resident to the fact that even those born in “slums” can use proper grammar.


  5. This section was very good! I am extremely interested in Monsieur Ozu and the role he is taking on in this story. He is so observant. I am pleased that he figured out Michel so quickly and that he has become friendly with the young girl who wants to commit suicide. I am looking forward to seeing how he impacts both of their lives. So much so that it’s hard for me to stop and write this! I just want to keep on reading! 🙂

    Does anyone else have a desire to see inside his home? I sure do! I want to meet him and his cats too. I think it’s a sign of a great author to be able to illicit such a response from a reader.

    Also, I am even more hopeful that the young girl will change her mind about committing suicide on her 13th birthday now that Monsieur Ozu has come on the scene.

    The vocabulary continues to be amazing, and like I said the first week, I am glad I am able to read it on my nook so I can easily look up any of the words I choose to.


    • Yes!!! They keep talking about the inside of his home and I want to see it, too. I guess it’s a little superficial, but he seems unique and like he’s stirring up some excitement in the building, and in the readers!


  6. I am still loving the hell out of this book. The grammar part is FANTASTIC. Before she even started in on the comma, I read the woman’s note and immediately thought, ‘What the hell is up with that random comma?’ Hahaha!

    Mr. Ozu is wonderful already, and as has already been said, I want to see his apartment. It sounds gorgeous. I am so glad that he moved in and gave Paloma something to look forward to and someone to talk to aside from the other snobby people in the building. I’m also quite fond of the young woman who wants to be a veterinarian (I don’t have the book right in front of me–is she a Saint-Nice?).

    I’ve highlighted quite a few passages so far, but I’m starting to think that I could just highlight the entire book.


  7. Pingback: The Elegance of the Hedgehog: Book Club Begins Monday, July 1! | Love At First Book

  8. This part of the book was easier to read.

    I loved all the references to Anna Karenina with the cats and the first sentence of the book. While I was reading the chapter I thought “I have seen that sentence, but where?”. And then Renee said Anna Karenina, and I thought “that’s it!” I thought it was a cute and simple way to introduce her relationship with Mr. Ozu.

    I also liked the part where the girl talks about the dying neighbor, and how she says that people who hate the world act like that because they hate themselves. It was one of those thoughts that’s always in everybody’s mind (or subconscious) but no one cares to comment about it.

    Like Heather said before me, I’m marking off every page, and I’m running out of post-its!


    • The AK thing was like a slip. Renee kind of let her guard down, but it is amazing because I wonder if it wasn’t almost done on purpose since she felt some sort of connection to Ozu.

      So right about our teen’s perspectives. She’s just so smart! I would like to be friends with her.


  9. Pingback: The Elegance of the Hedgehog: Book Club Begins Monday, July 1! |

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