The Castle in the Pyrenees

The latest release from Jostein Garrder, a long wait since his last English translated piece but I was quite disappointed after reading it. Some readers complimented him on his use of the internet and the surrealistic painting of Magritte as the book title, I agree with the latter but won’t see eye to eye with the former claim. In fact, that was my main contention with the novel; it is far too dry to read a novel that spins around the emailing correspondence  between two old lovers who finally met after a separation of 30 years. I would expect more action, different perspective in the narration, and instead, I was getting long and short dissertation on some philosophical notions presented through those emails exchanged. It somehow brought back some bad feelings I had about the Sophie’s World, that it is more a book on philosophy or a text than it can serve as a novel. Well, at least Sophie’s World has a thicker plot than this, it’s like comparing a 3D and 2D effect one would experience. Perhaps I am not being fair to the author since he has quite successfully incorporated philosophy into the plot , and that should help to initiate us laymen into the world of philosophy, still, he could have bridged the 2 worlds seamlessly like he did with his other novels such as The Orange Girl, The Christmas Mystery and my favourite, The Solitaire Mystery. Somehow, it also reminds me of the movie, You’ve got mail with its mainly using the emailing as the voice of narration. I certainly do like the movie but not the passive mode of storytelling through the email exchanges between Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. And I much prefer them in Sleepless in Seattle, for the same reason as I had enjoyed Gaarder in his other books. Yet who knows? It may take me a few more years before I re-read the book to appreciate more of what it has to say, for no meeting is accidental, a notion very much emphasized by the author, and my perception may just be the direct opposite of what I have written today. Or maybe, just maybe, I will just read it all over again in a minute…

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