Monday, September 03, 2007

Book Notes: The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

This is the third of Jostein Gaarder's books which I have read, following the brilliant 'Sophie's World' and the very moving 'Orange Girl' - and it is the weakest of the three.

It still contains all the elements which make Gaarder's story telling so compelling - it is a story which with quirky style and a bizarre narrative, explores a religious or philosophical idea through narrative.

This one concerns a young boy called Joachim, who through the aid of a magic advent calendar discovers the story of a young Norwegian girl who went missing. It turns out that she joined a band of angels whose pilgrimage crosses Europe to Bethlehem - going back in time as they travel until they become observers of the birth of Christ.

As is always the case with Gaarder, it has some weird plot twists, some good characterisation, and a quirkiness which is endearing. The idea of re-tracing the progress of the Christmas story back through time and space is a nice device; and it was a fun read, it simply didn't grip like "The Orange Girl" or open up new possibilities like "Sophie's World".

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