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The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
We are in an elegant hôtel particulier in the center of Paris. Renée, the building's concierge, is short, ugly, and plump. She has bunions on her feet. She is cantankerous and addicted to television soaps. Her only genuine attachment is to her cat, Leo. In short, she is everything society expects from a concierge at a bourgeois building in a posh Parisian neighborhood. But Renée has a secret: she is a ferocious autodidact who furtively devours art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With biting humor she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants—her inferiors in every way except that of material wealth. Then there's Paloma, a super-smart twelve-year-old and the youngest daughter of the Josses, who live on the fifth floor. Talented, precocious, and startingly lucid, she has come to terms with life's seeming futility and has decided to end her own on the day of her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue hiding her extraordinary intelligence behind a mask of mediocrity, acting the part of an average pre-teen high on pop subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. Paloma and Renée hide both their true talents and their finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them. They discover their kindred souls when a wealthy Japanese man named Ozu arrives in the building. Only he is able to gain Paloma's trust and to see through Renée's timeworn disguise to the secret that haunts her. This is a moving, funny, triumphant novel that exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.

Cafe La Boheme

3318 24th Street · San Francisco, CA

What we're about

To read the greats found in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and meet interesting people while at it.

The list can be found here: ...

This group usually - but not always - meets on the second Sunday of the month over a drink, tea/coffee, or a nosh. This is a mixed age/gender group; people from all backgrounds are welcome to participate in the book discussions. Books are chosen with an effort towards a diverse selection (such as: men/women authors, different geographical regions, majority/minority perspectives, variety of styles, etc).

Coming to a discussion group assumes you've read the book, or don't mind the spoilers. Repeated no-shows will be removed from the group, sorry! Please update your RSVP prior to the meetup if you are not planning to come.

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