The other pole of the story is Paloma Josse, a 12-year-old tenant in the building, voiced by Cassandra Morris with an appropriate measure of sarcasm and outrage. Paloma is a wildly precocious girl raised in privilege who has all the gifts of intellect and all the faults of a pre-adolescent. She's grandiose she favors us with excerpts from a journal titled "Profound Thoughts". She's happy to throw stones at glass houses, and even plans to burn hers down, with the aim of teaching her family a pithy lesson about deprivation. She describes the currently deprived in terms that, while well-intentioned, condescend and distort. She is, in other words, a burgeoning intellect in serious need of the influence of an adult she can respect. An adult, perhaps, like the 54-year-old concierge on the first floor. But it takes more than a ride in an elevator to truly meet a woman who has spent her life in hiding. The novel takes two world views, both meticulously constructed from sound philosophical materials, and happily pulls them apart. Rosalie Knecht
Both Renee and Paloma hide their true talents and finest qualities from the bourgeois families around them, until a wealthy Japanese gentleman named Ozu moves into building. Only he sees through them, perceiving the secret that haunts Renee, winning Paloma's trust, and helping the two discover their kindred souls. Moving, funny, tender, and triumphant, Barbery's novel exalts the quiet victories of the inconspicuous among us.
"An exquisite book in the form of a philosophical fable that has enchanted hundreds of thousands of readers." (Italian Elle)
"Kinetic minds and engaging voices." ( New York Times Book Review)
"By turns very funny and heartbreaking". ( Publishers Weekly)
"Life-affirming." ( Time)
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Kimberley Julius on 22-10-14
If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?
The book is fabulous - it was read abysmally
Who might you have cast as narrator instead of Barbara Rosenblat and Cassandra Morris ?
Someone who can do a French accent
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Pyles on 21-04-10
It surprised me
I would not have had the patience to read this book with my eyes. I used it as a companion for pulling weeds and I must report that the garden and I are both the better for it. It was a very good listen. I'll not forget these characters anytime soon.
57 of 59 people found this review helpful
By Regan on 23-07-09
This is an absolutely charming and wonderful book that I'll be recommending to lots of people. It is told in the first person by two narrators, both of whom are very intelligent intellectuals who are constantly evaluating the psychological and philosophical nuances of everything. While that sounds like it could be unbelievable dull, it isn't. I laughed so hard at one point, I had to stop the recording.
Cassandra Morris is very good, but Barbara Rosenblatt gives an award winning performance. It is one of the best narrations I have heard not just from Rosenblatt, but from anyone.
46 of 49 people found this review helpful