Thursday, July 5, 2018

Ms. Hen reviews The Life of Elves

The Life of Elves
Muriel Barbery
Europa Editions
Translated from the French by Alison Anderson

Ms. Hen picked up this novel because she loved another by this author, THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG, and she liked the title of this one. Ms. Hen found this book in a dusty bookstore, which she frequents sometimes called Commonwealth Books, which is located in an alley in downtown Boston, near the Financial District and shopping area.

Ms. Hen didn’t know what to think of this book at first. It has a very quiet and unassuming tone, and at times, she didn’t understand what was going on. This is a strange book with a strange premise, and Ms. Hen wasn’t sure if she liked it that much. She didn’t hate it, but there were times when she was reading when her mind couldn’t help but wander.

This is a novel about two girls, Maria and Clara, who live in France and Italy, respectively, who both have special powers and are enjoined to the Elven world. Maria can communicate with animals, and Clara has a gift for music. They are connected to each other in a special way.

Maria lives in the countryside in a village in France with her adopted family. Her grandmother cures people with herbs. There is a scene in the novel in which Maria moves three cloves of garlic on the hearth, and that converted the image, and that idea was repeated throughout the novel. The idea is that a simple item can be changed, and made into an artistic representation of the same thing that was there before, but morphed into something more beautiful.

Clara learns to play the piano quickly, and she could learn any piece immediately and by heart. She is taken to a place in Rome, away from her village in the mountains, in order to learn music and help discover what she is meant to do. She makes friends with the people in Rome, but does not leave the place where she lives that often. She learns about the Elven world through Petrus, who drinks and tells her stories.

There are several hens and chickens in this novel, which made Ms. Hen like it more than she would have if there weren’t. She finds that there are usually hens and chickens in French novels, because they love chickens. Ms. Hen has been to France, and she met some hens there.

Ms. Hen didn’t completely love this novel, because she couldn’t get into it enough. But she thinks it is a good book to read in the middle of summer because there is a lot of talk about snow and cold. She likes to read books about winter in the middle of a heat wave. Yesterday where Ms. Hen lives, it was 96 degrees, and it felt like 104. She doesn’t like the summer. The only good thing about summer is the fact that it’s not winter, and there is no ice on the streets, and she has more energy to read because the days are longer J

Ms. Hen makes a friend in France

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