This is the summary of the book on the back cover: "Renée is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building, home to members of the great and the good. Over the years she has maintained her carefully constructed persona as someone reliable but totally uncultivated, in keeping, she feels, with society's expectations of what a concierge should be. But beneath this façade lies the real Renée: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Renée lives resigned to her lonely lot with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever."
Kitty's recent posts on Poking at Personas reminded me of a passage in the book. At the time when I read it I knew nothing about Narcissism yet but the description struck me so much because it described so well not only what happens when you poke behind someone's mask but how the discovery of what's behind the mask made me feel. I even highlighted the whole passage in fluorescent yellow so that I would be able to find it easily. In the story, Paloma is taken to her mother's shrink and she pokes behind his mask:
"At first I was really pleased with myself. I had managed to make him move. But as the day went on I started to feel more and more depressed. Because what happened when he moved was something not very nice, not very decent. So what if I know there are adults who wear masks that are all sweetness and light but who are very hard and ugly underneath, and so what if I know that all you have to do is see right through them for their masks to fall; when it happens with this sort of violence, it hurts. When he slapped the blotter, what it meant was, 'Fine, you see me as I am, no point carrying this useless farce, it's a done deal, you pathetic little bargain, now get the hell out of here, and fast.' Well, that hurt, yes, it hurt."
I think I need to read this book again. I'm sure I'm going to see a lot of stuff that I missed the first time around.