What It’s About: Renée appears to be a typical concierge in a Parisian apartment building of aristocrats. She is widowed, overweight, uneducated, and friendless aside from her cat and a cleaning woman. But in reality Renée puts a great effort into keeping this façade, and is really incredibly intelligent and cultured. She spends her days reading Russian literature, philosophy and admiring art. Living in the same building, Paloma is a twelve-year-old daughter of a government official. Like Renée, she is very interested in Japanese culture. Paloma also hides her intelligence from others and is especially perceptive for a pre-teen. Paloma has decided that she will kill herself on her thirteenth birthday, burning down the building before she dies. When a cultured Japanese man moves into the building, both Paloma and Renée find someone who truly sees them, and helps them see each other.
Who Will Love It: Lovers of Paris, Philosophy and literary fiction.
What I Loved: It’s well written and thought provoking, with beautiful prose and thoughtful characters.