Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder

The Orange Girl by Jostein Gaarder
Publisher: Pheonix
Date: 7th July 2005 (New edition)

Well, it has been many years since I read a book, cover to cover, over the course of a day or two. The Orange Girl has restored my faith in my ability to do just this. I have found that every book I have read of Gaarder's has held me captivated and I love the way in which not one word is wasted nor is it skimmed over (on my part!). This book is no exception.

The Orange Girl's main focus is on Georg, his deceased father and his father's love and obsession with the 'Orange Girl'. Georg's father died when he was nearly 4 and 11 years later he his handed a large, unopened envelope from his grandmother. The envelope holds his father's story of the Orange Girl. Written just before his death, Georg's father writes to the 'older' Georg about the girl and the events leading up to them meeting. On receiving the envelope, Georg hides himself away for an evening to read the story.

Gaarder brings his wonderful use of a 'story within story' in to play. We are with Georg all the way as he reads his father's tale and we also witness Georg's feelings and views throughout the book. We are, in effect, seeing Georg growing up in the course of a few hours. We are able to see him getting to know a father who died long before he was old enough to get to know him in life.

It was within the early part of the book I felt I had discovered the 'mystery', however, this did not make the book any less enchanting. In fact it made the story all the more bittersweet, poignant and touching. I found the Orange Girl to be a wonderful book about love, loss, life and making the most of what you have before it has gone.

Often with Gaarder's books I find that I stop myself for a few minutes, remove myself from the daily drudgery of work, bed, work, and see life for what it is! Precious, short and not to be spent being too serious about things for any length of time! The Orange Girl made me do this once again, even if for a short time, before the world of work, stress and earning money beckons!