The Life of Elves by Muriel Barbery

The Life of Elves Book Cover

The Life of Elves
Muriel Barbery
Text Publishing
February 24, 2016


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.

First of all for those who loved “The Elegance of the Hedgehog”: forget about that one when you start reading “The Life of Elves”. They are 2 completely different books and genres. “The Life of Elves” is more a fantasy fairy tale, a bit in the style of Tolkien.

The story is descriptive (Barbery uses a lot of text to describing details) which is distracting from the plot. Sometimes she strays away from the story to, lengthy, describe the weather for instance. The story is not really set in a specific time period even though we get some hints which contradict them self. The main characters Clara and Maria, although they are opposites, do not show a lot of difference in character.
All of these make the book a bit cloudy and hard to follow. On top of that there’s a layer of spirituality which is just not my thing. This book is the first part of a series and that might explain the lack of certain details and background info.

However: the descriptive nature of this book is well written and the story itself poetical.


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