First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
Renee is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building on the Left Bank. To the residents she is honest, reliable and uncultivated – an ideal concierge. But Renee has a secret Beneath this conventional façade she is passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her self-important employers.
Down in her lodge, Renee is resigned to living a lie; meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid a predictably bourgeois future, and plans to commit suicide on her thirteenth birthday.
But the death of one of their privileged neighbours will bring dramatic change to number 7, Rue de Grenelle, altering the course of both their lives forever.
Alas, the last working day of the week has arrived! The weekend is just around the corner. Happy Friday everyone! After a long and challenging week at work, I am more than excited for the weekend. With yearend closing fast approaching, I am trying to take as much time off as I can before I can go all out once again. On another note, with the year drawing to a close, I hope that everything you prayed for gets answered and that you reap the benefits of everything you have worked for this year. I hope that you get repaid for all the kindness you have showered the world. More importantly, I pray you are all doing well in this time of uncertainty. I fervently hope that the pandemic will end soon.
An integral part of my Friday is the First Impression Friday update. As the year slowly inches to a close, it has become more imperative for me to prioritize completing my reading lists and challenges. I currently have about or five active challenges. Of these reading challenges, my priority is my 2021 Top 21 Reading List. I didn’t realize that I have still quite a couple of books that I have yet to read. I have made decent progress in the past few weeks but I still have about six books to read. One of these books is Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It is my 81st read for the year, making me just four books shy of hitting my Goodreads reading challenge of 85 books; it was originally 60. The book is also a part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die; my goal for the year is to read at least 20 books from this list. In reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog, I am hitting three birds simultaneously.
Speaking of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die List, it was through must-read lists that I first came across Barbery’s novel. I even thought that it was an original English work; it was only when I bought the book that I learned it was originally written in French. I just started reading the book last Wednesday but I haven’t made any significant progress yet although I have already completed about 100 pages. There are two distinct narrative voices in the story, that of Renée Michel, and Paloma Josse. Both are residents of an upper-middle-class Left Bank apartment at 7 Rue de Grenelle – one of the most elegant streets in Paris.
Renée is a widow; she and her husband have been working as concierges for almost three decades. She grew up in poverty but she has taught herself to read at a young age. And the books she has read are no light reads! Among the books she has read are the works of German philosopher Immanuel Kant and Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy. Passages from these works are found throughout the story. Thirteen-year-old Paloma, on the other hand, grew up in an affluent family; her father is an important parliamentarian. She is erudite and was more intellectually advanced than her peers, including her petty sister, Colombe. Renée’s first-person point-of-view narrative alternates with Paloma’s point-of-views which were related through two journals: Journal of the Movement of the World and Profound Thoughts.
Nothing of consequence has happened yet but I am enjoying the obvious dichotomies and parallels between the two main protagonists. I enjoy reading their thoughts, which combine the profound and the intellectual. Their individual narrative threads also brought out their interesting personalities. While Renée and Paloma grew up in different backgrounds, they share several similarities. However, I haven’t reached the part yet where their individual threads intersected. From what I have read so far, I surmise that something of importance will eventually happen that will shift the paradigms in both Renée and Paloma’s worlds. How they will respond to this chain of events, I have surmised, will form the heart of the story.
I can’t wait to finish the book this weekend, hopefully. There is so much I look forward to and I hope Barbery won’t fail me (haha). How about you fellow reader? What book do you have on your hand right now? How are you enjoying it so far? I hope you could share it in the comment box. For now, have a great weekend ahead! And as always, happy reading!.
Keep on reading, Carl – this is one of my very favorite books. Thanks for the memory. Maybe I’ll read it again.
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That’s good to know. I am enjoying the book so far.