In 2006, Muriel Barbery wrote “The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” which became an international best seller. Barbery, a French novelist and former philosophy teacher, sold more than seven million copies of this quirky novel about the concierge of a Paris apartment building and a precocious, suicidal 12-year-old who lives in the building.
Her second novel, “The Life of Elves,” includes a complete magical menagerie: elves, unicorns, a giant squirrel, an otter with a human face and more. This fairy tale/fable centers on two 12-year-old girls: Maria, an orphan with magical powers, and Clara, a clairvoyant piano prodigy in Italy. Clara begins to have visions of Maria, and although they never meet, their lives are intertwined.
Barbery surprised even herself when she realized she was writing a fantasy novel. Creating a supernatural world felt “surprisingly natural.” “In fiction, everything is possible,” she said, “so why wouldn’t you allow yourself to imagine everything as a writer.”
Now on a book tour, she is eager to return to France to begin writing a sequel to “The Life of Elves.” In the new book, Maria and Clara will be brought together as a cosmic war breaks out.