Wow! What an interesting read, indeed. The Elegance of the Hedgehog was a little hard to get into at first. I've never read a book where philosophical prose were the true protagonist. The two female, flesh & blood protagonists were merely oracles for the author to present her philosophical views about the meaning of both art & beauty and really, life in general. As with many profound books, there is often deep substance behind the mere telling of the story, but in this case it was very pronounced. I loved this book on many levels but also felt that it could have been written with a little more effort. What I loved: the soaring, shimmering philosophical prose that often made me stop and ponder, re-read then shake my head in affirmation as well as admiration. The author is clearly a brilliant woman, and it was intriguing to gain insight into her head. I also loved how her snarky view of the world made me laugh out loud.
Although much of her prose soared, some of it was often clunky and disjointed. What could have been better: The two protagonist's voices were conveniently too similar. The author also spent more time on expressing her philosophy rather than fleshing out the background of her characters and their personalities in order to make their interaction with one another a more natural occurrence. Characters, especially minor ones, often floated in and out of the storyline with little meaning, making it hard to become attached to them. They were more like useful tools to pronounce a point rather than a meaningful part of the story line.
If I had to rate this book purely on the basis of its philosophical merit, I would give it far more than 5/5 stars. But, I wouldn't be able to rate it quite that high for merely a storyline point of view.
Overall, great book!!
T.H. Waters, author of Ghellow Road