This book shifts between a working class Parisian concierge and an adolescent girl whose weathy family lives in the concierge's building. Both characters are unusually bright, but take extreme pains to hide their intelligence from the lesser lights by which they are surrounded. They eventually find each other, establishing a friendship.
Through its characters, The Elegance of the Hedgehog touches on art, philosophy, and the life of the mind. Sounds serious, right? The overall effect is almost comedic, though, because of the keen-eyed judgments the girl and the woman pass on the people around them. Socialites; pseudo-intellectuals; food critics; governmental officials; family members; the monied classes--no one is safe.
A good book.
On another note, I did finally finish the last short story of Jhumpa Lahiri's collection, Unaccustomed Earth. And looking ahead, in the queue is Shadow Country by Peter Matthiessen; The Reader, by Bernhard Schlink; and The Singular Pilgrim: Travels on Sacred Ground, by Rosemary Mahoney, a favorite nonfiction writer.
In the meantime, though, I've taken an escapist detour to the vampire series on which HBO's TrueBlood is based.
So. My bedside table is filled with books. Life is good.