This novel follows two separate narratives that eventually get intertwined. Renée, the 54 year old concierge of a block of luxury appartements who, against all odds, is extremely intelligent and well read and Paloma, a 12 year old resident of the same building who also happens to be insanely intelligent for her age. Convinced that life is meaningless, she plans to end her own on her 13th birthday. Other common points:
-both are determined to conceal their intelligence.
-they both firmly believe that Rich must be bad and Poor must be good.
-both fangirl hard over Japan because Japan is THE shit.
When I said that this was a novel, I was using the term loosely. It’s actually 70% philosophical musings, 30% plot. I enjoyed most of the former but not the latter. So, did I like the book overall?No.
-The protagonists are obnoxious people who have I-am-a-special-snowflake syndrome and revel in the certainty that they are the best because everyone is stupid and judgmental while in reality, all they do is passing baseless judgement on others. Everyone has their prejudices so Practice what you preach!
-The author felt the need to constantly remind us how incredible it is that a concierge could read Tolstoy and Marx. The likelihood of this is very slim and the person would probably be a pain in the ass like Renée as they will try to prove their mental superiority. -Paloma’s character is unrealistically mature.
-I didn’t understand why Renee was fussing over concealing her intellect.
-The pedantic wordy writing style. Barbery’s motto: the more difficult words you can fit in, the better.
-If we put the philosophical ramblings aside and focus on the actual plot, what we end up with is a lackluster depthless predictable romance including all the laughable cliches. Everything was grim until the Prince Charming (japanese of course) comes along, quotes Tolstoy and sees right through the unattractive woman who gets a makeover beyond recognition.
-That sappy ending😒
1-Do you feel personally offended by a negative review of a book you love?
2-Are there things that intellectual people do that annoy you?