Review on the English Translation of The Elegance of the Hedgehog
As the reader, we know from the beginning that the two women have more in common than they realize. But Renée decides to maintain her facade of an uneducated concierge so that she may keep her job: she is a self taught literary enthusiast who adores Tolstoy, as well as a devotee of Japanese cinema. The inhabitants of 7 Rue de Grenelle would apparently be incensed if they found out that their low status, frumpy concierge was getting high on these intellectual play sessions. Not to mention that Renée simply wants to be left alone and has no desire to become the object of everyone's curiosity. "To be poor, ugly and, moreover, intelligent condemns one, in our society, to a dark and disillusioned life, a condition one ought to accept at an early age." So she pretends to be far more stupid than she is. The troubled young girl and the concierge are drawn together when a celebrated restaurant critic residing in the building dies. Kakuro Uzo, a cultured Japanese man takes over the apartment as well as a fascination with Renée. Paloma decides that the concierge has "the same simple refinement as the hedgehog: a deceptively indolent little creature, fiercely solitary - and terribly elegant."
For further information on the story: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Elegance_of_the_Hedgehog#Publication