OK, no guesses on the second lie, so I’ll just have to give it up. I’m hoping that some of you will be curious enough to read this great novel and share your thoughts here.
1. The main friendship in this novel is between a bright adolescent girl of privilege and a middle-aged self-educated woman of modest means.
2. It is one of two novels based in the same chick Parisian apartment building.
3. The novel has been prescribed by a European therapist in lieu of antidepressants.
4. The book comes complete with recipes for French pastries.
And the lie is . . . number 4–no recipes in this book.
The main characters in this novel are Renée , a middle-aged concierge in a chic Paris apartment building whose low-brow image belies her deeply intellectual aesthetic; and Paloma, a twelve-year-old resident of the building and a daughter of privilege, who is entirely too smart for her own good.
This is one of two novels by Muriel Barbery which are set in the same Paris residence. The other is entitled Gourmet Rhapsody.
And yes, a European therapist, a Parisian, is prescribing this book in lieu of antidepressants. Below is an excerpt from the book’s review in the Paris newspaper, L’Express.
Hedgehog or Prozac? At first, the question may seem absurd. But it becomes less so when one learns that a Parisian psychotherapist is prescribing Muriel Barbery’s bestselling novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog to her patients. “Yes, I am prescribing it, and I do mean prescribing. This book can do a lot of good . . . [it’s] a real toolbox that one can look into to resolve one’s problems.’ . . . And, indeed, all women, at least once, even Carla Bruni, have lived through the kind of psychological self-denigration that Renée inflicts on herself in the opening scene of the book. The ultimate celebration of every person’s invisible part (Renée smells of cabbage soup but reads Husserl) constitutes one of the book’s operative factors.
It’s not often that a book of any kind gets that kind of recommendation. Having read it a couple of times now, I can say that it is indeed good for the soul. Let me know what you think if you decide to give it a whirl.