Story Society Saturday December 2016: The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

Welcome to December! I’m so excited to see the snow! On Facebook…from Florida. I know that’s an old joke. I enjoy it. Indulge me.

Story Society and Book Club is a Facebook page run by Booktender Gypsie, who is delightful by the way. My favorite thing on the page is Caught In The Act Of Reading, which is a photo series of people and the books they’re experiencing. Definitely head over to the page and give it a look (after reading this post, of course)! 

Each month, Booktender Gypsie recommends a new book to be read during the month and welcomes thoughts, quotes, and general comments about the book selected. 

This month’s recommendation is: The Lives of Elves by Muriel Barbery

Goodreads Synopsis:

A moving and deeply felt homage to the power of nature and art by one of the world’s most beloved authors.

Do two young girls have the power to change the world? Maria, raised by powerful older women, lives in a remote village in Burgundy, where she discovers her gift of clairvoyance, of healing and of communicating with nature. Hundreds of miles away in Italy, Clara discovers her musical genius and is sent from the countryside to Rome to nurture her extraordinary abilities.

Who are the mysterious elves? Will they succeed in training the girls for their higher purpose in the face of an impending war? Barbery’s The Life of Elves is the story of two children whose amazing talents will bring them into contact with magical worlds and malevolent forces. If, against all odds, they can be brought together, their meeting may shape the course of history.

Seven years after the publication of her international bestseller, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, Muriel Barbery returns with an inspiring novel about finding the divine in the domestic, about the quest for enchantment. With its cast of unforgettable characters, each fighting to preserve the idea of an enhanced life, The Life of Elves is a luminous novel about art, nature, dreams, the power of love, and how imagination can help us build a bridge to a better future.

My Favorite Quotes:

Page 56:

True faith, it is a well-known fact, has little regard for chapels, but it does believe in the communion of mysteries, and with its unworldly fusion of beliefs, it crushes any temptations that prove too intolerant. 

Page 118:

What was healing, in the end, if not the making of peace? And what was living if it was not for love? 

My Review:

The Life of Elves is written so poetically that it took me a bit of time to get into it. The flow of it is almost dreamlike. I enjoyed reading through it, though I’ll admit that the story goes in circles quite a bit.

I got the feeling that the characters had a great deal of depth, but it’s almost like the author holds back on some of that because the main two characters are children. We don’t really get to see very much depth to any of the characters aside from Clara. This kind of bothered me but it added into the dreamlike feel of the storytelling style.

The world is built up just enough that we can get a hazy mental image of where Clara and Maria are but, again, the edges blur as they would in a dream. While it was interesting to read something and experience it as I would a dream, I have to say I prefer a more immersive feel when I read.

Overall, I rate The Life of Elves 3 out of 5 bookworms. 

Don’t just take my word for it. Order The Lives of Elves from Barnes & Noble in the US, Waterstones in the UK, or your locally owned bookstore and enjoy it for yourself!

For more information about Muriel Barbery and her work, visit her website.

Want to join the Story Society and Book Club? Booktender Gypsie recommends a new book on the 25th of each month. Head on over to the Facebook page and give it a Like so you’re sure not to miss it!


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