The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (audiobook cover)I’m not usually an audiobook fan. My attention tends to wander, and I end up having to backtrack and listen to the same thing over and over before I actually hear it. Sometimes the narrators are bland, and sometimes they’re a bit too overly dramatic. Just not my thing.

At BEA, however, I picked up an audiobook version of Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog, and on my recent trip to Boston and back, I gave it a go.

The story is of two people living in the same Paris apartment building. Downstairs, there is Renee, the concierge, who keeps up the dull outward appearance people expect but lives a rich and cultured inner life. Upstairs, there is Paloma, a dazzlingly intelligent child who decides, quite early in the novel, that she is going to kill herself. The characters take turns narrating, and the enraptured listener beholds the story unfolding.

I must say, I am in love. Cassandra Morris and Barbara Rosenblat do such a fantastic job bringing the inner lives of their respective characters to life that what is a witty and profound novel becomes nothing short of an aural feast. I’ve been trying to find excuses to drive just so I can listen to this delightful recording.

And so I’ve been converted, though only selectively. I think what I like in an audiobook is when it’s told in the first person, so that the character is speaking to me rather than an omniscient narrator. Next up, thanks to Stanley over at Market Block: Alan Bradley’s The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie on audiobook. I can’t wait!

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