Currently reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog. I'm one thoroughly smitten aristocrat.
On the character Manuela -
'When you eat a walnut, you must use a tablecloth,' says Manuela, removing from her old shopping bag a little hamper made of light wood in which some almond tuiles are nestled among curls of carmine tissue paper. I make coffee that we shall not drink, but its wafting odor delights us both, and in silence we sip a cup of green tea as we nibble on our tuiles.
This girl from Faro, as I was saying, who wears the requisite black support stockings and a kerchief on her head, is an aristocrat. An authentic one, of the kind whose entitlement you cannot contest: it is etched onto her very heart, it mocks titles and peole with handles to their names. What is an aristocrat? A woman who is never sullied by vulgarity, although she may be surrounded by it.
Yes, as if I were a queen. When Manuela arrives, my lodge is transformed into a palace, and a picnic between two pariahs becomes the feast of two monarchs. Like a storyteller transforming life into a shimmering river where trouble and boredom vanish far below the water, Manuela metamorphoses our existence into a warm and joyful epic.