A bestseller in Europe, readers who enjoy literary fiction and foreign films will love this book. Philosophical and poignant, this is the kind of novel worth reading again and again for the pure beauty of the words, characters and ideas. The story parallels two lives that seem to have little in common: Renee, a lowly concierge in a lavish Paris apartment building and Paloma, a brilliant and misunderstood 12-year old girl who lives in one of the apartments. Both characters lead curious and clandestine lives that they desperately try to hide. Renee appears to be an average middle-aged, blue-collar worker, but in private, she studies great literature and savors haute cuisine. She is a woman of refined tastes and of grand ideas, yet she is terrified of anyone unraveling who she really is. Similarly, Paloma purposefully underachieves and rarely speaks so that her family, peers and teachers won't know how shockingly brilliant she is. Both characters are charming and funny, yet feel very alone and constantly question the meaning of their individual existences. Over the course of the novel, their lives intertwine and each is found out when a clever Japanese gentleman moves into the apartment building. A thought-provoking, surprising and charming read.
Recommended by Erica Jesonis