The Elegance of the Hedgehog Summary

The Elegance of the Hedgehog Summary

The whole story takes place in an apartment building at 7 Rue de Grenelle in Paris in 2005. It is formed as the narrating of two main heroes: the concierge of this house, 54-year-old Renee, and the 12-year-old daughter of rich parents, who lives there, Paloma. Renee is shown as an very intelligent woman from the very beginning, but she prefers to conceal her knowledge, ‘cause she thinks that it’s not proper to a concierge to be smart. She lives on the first floor in the small flat, which seems to be typical for a woman of her job. But there is a room, which is always locked for everybody, except for Renee herself. It’s a library with a huge number of books in different topics: beginning philosophical and ending with fiction. Renee’s favorite book is Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy; she even names her cat Leo. Also Renee is fond of good music and films: she deeply ponders over every sound of song, every moment in film, especially when talking about Japanese films.

Renee is depicting alternates with Paloma’s notes in her diary. She is 12 and she writes about her plans to commit a suicide when she will be 13. She thinks that life doesn’t have any sense and when people grow older, they just start to follow the stupid rules and stereotypes. She perfectly knows every subject at school, she is knowledgeable almost about everything that her parents and their guests talk about. Sometimes even more: once one man, their guest, was talking about Go, Japanese game, similar to Chess, but he said that it was a Chinese game and mixed up some its rules; so Paloma intervened in the conversation and corrected the man, but then her father chided her. This, and many other similar things, make her hide her knowledge, pretend to be a common girl.

But one day a man moves into the house. His name is Kakuro Ozu and he is a rich businessman. As the reader understands, he is a Japanese. The man notices from the first sight that two protagonists are not that easy as they want to seem. So he tries to find common ground with both of them. He gets acquainted with the girl in the lift, later he invites her to play with his niece or just to talk with each other. Also he spends time with Renee: he invites her to watch a film with him, then to celebrate his birthday in the restaurant. Finally both the girl and the woman start to trust the man. Kakuro changes them and they are happy having met each other. Paloma changes her mind and doesn’t want to die anymore. Renee feels herself not just a concierge, but a woman first of all.

But one day Renee was crossing the road in a good mood, thinking about that a beautiful day was, and she didn’t notice a car, going fast towards her. Renee dies. Kakuro and Paloma were the only ones who really felt the grief of losing the woman.

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