Literary Characters Who Kept Journals: Paloma Josse and Renee Michel (See The Elegance of the Hedgehog)
The Elegance of the Hedgehog - Muriel Barbery
Meet Paloma Josse, a twelve-year old affluent French girl who has decided to commit suicide before she reaches the age of thirteen because she is convinced that life has no meaning. Spoiler alert: the book has a tear-jerker ending, but not in the most obvious way that you might expect after reading the first sentence of this paragraph.
No, Paloma’s story is one of hope and redemption. A lesson in how to find the “always within never.”
The book switches perspectives from Paloma, who writes notes in her journal, to that of Renee Michel, the building’s concierge. I love the passage on Page 123 from Renee’s perspective that reads: “What other reason might I have for writing this - ridiculous journal of an aging concierge - if the writing did not have something of the art of scything about it? …teaching me something that I neither knew nor thought I might want to know. This painless birth, like an unsolicited proof, gives me untold pleasure, and with neither toil nor certainty but the joy of frank astonishment I follow the pen that is guiding and supporting me.”
I loved how Paloma began writing her “Journal of the Movement of the World” as a way of recording beauty observed in her daily life. She began looking for a reason to live, and she found several reasons once she focused on that instead of getting lost in the nothing. Her “Profound Thoughts” obviously started off on the dark side, but she evolved.
All in all, a powerful story of how just one or two people can change your life. And also, in a lot of ways, a story of how journaling can change a life. That may sound melodramatic to some of you.
However, if any of you, like Paloma, have ever been lost in the darkness; stuck in the never without an always; then you know. It isn’t just paper. It’s your redemption. It’s what you have. It is the tool that helps you find a reason, and then hopefully several reasons.
Pictured with the book is The Fantastic Magician of Us, one of our Secret Diary Journals. Each indexed book journal features 186 pages that are ruled and numbered for your ease of use. The numbered pages with an index will help keep you organized and make it easy to find your important entries. To really make your brain sing, we recommend that you use tabs and update your book journal’s index as necessary immediately after you have completed your journaling.
Secret Diary Journals are hardcover ruled notebooks made to resemble hardcover books that can easily be shelved in your living room or sit on a table at a coffee house without screaming: “I am a personal journal and I contain private thoughts. Pick me up and snoop!” Secret Diary Journals are designed to help you maintain your privacy when keeping your personal notes.