Author(s): Muriel Barbery
The enthralling international bestseller. We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. Renee, the concierge, is witness to the lavish but vacuous lives of her numerous employers. Outwardly she conforms to every stereotype of the concierge: fat, cantankerous, addicted to television. Yet, unbeknownst to her employers, Renee is a cultured autodidact who adores art, philosophy, music, and Japanese culture. With humor and intelligence she scrutinizes the lives of the building's tenants, who for their part are barely aware of her existence. Then there's Paloma, a twelve-year-old genius. She is the daughter of a tedious parliamentarian, a talented and startlingly lucid child who has decided to end her life on the sixteenth of June, her thirteenth birthday. Until then she will continue behaving as everyone expects her to behave: a mediocre pre-teen high on adolescent subculture, a good but not an outstanding student, an obedient if obstinate daughter. Paloma and Renee 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 Renee'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.
The formula that made more than half a million readers in France fall in love with this book has, among other ingredients: intelligent humor, fine sentiments, an excellent literary and philosophical backdrop, good taste, sophistication and substance.
- "La Repubblica"
Enthusiastically recommended for anyone who loves books that grow quietly and then blossom suddenly.
- "Marie Claire" (France)
An exquisite book in the form of a philosophical fable that has enchanted hundreds of thousands of readers.
- "Elle" (Italy)
Nobody ever imagined that this tender, funny book with a philosophical vein would have enjoyed such incredible success. For some, it is part "Sophie's World" by Jostein Gaarder, part "Monsieur Malaussene" by Daniel Pennac, while for others it resembles a written version of the film Amelie. Either way, readers are responding in vast numbers.
- "Le Monde"