I recently read a novel called The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery. It was beautiful. The author, an extremely intelligent woman, is not only a gifted story teller, but has untold skill with language. Her prose were utterly beautiful. I never thought a good book should have beautiful prose (not to say it should have bad or awkward prose, but rather that the author shouldn't be overly obsessed with making the words beautiful).
I'd always held the belief (and had read enough to back it up) that the power of a story would get lost in beautiful prose, that the reader would get too caught up in the language to appreciate the subtleties of the story. Instead, I found myself luxuriating in the silky flow of her words, puzzling over the intellectual phrases, and still finding myself immersed in the clever observations of the characters. I became invested in the main character's journey, so much so that the ending brought me to tears. But I wasn't upset. I appreciated the way the author chose to end it. I saw the beauty in the moment she created, the beauty of the ending itself, not just the lovely words she used to describe it. The book challenged me not just on a human level, but as a writer. It made me want to be a better. And for that, I will always be grateful.