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The Life of Elves

Translated by Alison Anderson

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.


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Muriel Barbery
About the Author

Muriel Barbery was born in Morocco in 1969. She is the author of four previous novels, Gourmet Rhapsody, The Elegance of the Hedgehog, which sold over six million copies worldwide, The Life of Elves and A Strange Country. She has lived in Kyoto and Amsterdam and now lives in the French countryside.

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About the Translator

Alison Anderson’s many translations include novels by Nobel Prize winner J-M.G. Le Clézio, Anna Gavalda, Amélie Nothomb, Hélène Grémillon, as well as Muriel Barbery’s earlier novels.

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Text publication date:
30 January 2017
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Praise for Muriel Barbery
andThe Life of Elves

‘This fervent, idiosyncratic novel is undeniable evidence of a richly lyrical imagination.’

‘A homage to the power of story…A tour de force with many inspired and delightful touches…Irresistible.’

‘Barbery revels in the lavishing of detail…in its many moments of weird lucidity it also beguiles. It’s then that Barbery explores the mystical connections between nature, art and the human heart with vividness and clarity.’

‘[A] delightful novel…This mystical fairytale for grown-ups touches on the power of art and nature, and themes of friendship and love—it’s a perfectly enchanting read for a crisp Sunday afternoon by the fire.’

‘There’s much to love about Barbery’s unique prose. Her sentences are long, layered and circuitous…For those who enjoyed Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Shadow Of The Wind or Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief, The Life Of Elves will be welcomed and savoured.’

Other editions ofThe Life of Elves
  • The Life of Elves
    ISBN: 9781922253460
    24 February 2016
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