, , , ,

The Castle in the Pyrenees by Jostein Gaarder
Translated from the Norwegian by James Anderson
Published in 2008

“The Castle in the Pyrenees is the story of Solrun and Steinn, a couple once desperately in love, who were cast apart by a mysterious event.  Thirty years later they meet by chance, in a village deep in the mountains of Norway.  It is a place that may hold the secret to their break-up, and to the people they since become.

As they return to their families, Solrun and Steinn embark upon a secret correspondence, and begin to question their current lives and loves.  But as they realise that their years apart need not have been so, a figure from the past intrudes painfully on the present.  And now it is important than ever to answer two questions: who was the Lingonberry Woman? And what did she want?”

Few minutes ago, I have just finished one of the most compelling and, I would say, beautiful story written. Although I usually write my opinion of a book few days or even weeks after I read it, this is an exception.  My emotions are still at its peak that it’s difficult to get some sleep.  I would not be able to shut my eyes anyway.

In The Castle in the Pyrenees, Solrun and Steinn’s story is told through their email correspondence.  As expected of Gaarder, the novel has a lot of  philosophical exchanges over the course of their emailing.  There were be beliefs questioned, faiths shaken and self-doubting.  Although, at one point, they share the same belief about humanity, the world and the universe, there is this “mysterious event” that separated them for years.  The novel also explores the consciousness of the universe and humanity’s place in it.  Has the universe a consciousness of its own? Or are we, the living creatures, it’s consciousness?  Or is there some mysterious, supernatural force behind our existence?  But most importantly, the novel is about Solrun  and Steinn’s love story and the rediscovering of themselves, their relationship and their beliefs.

Through Solrun and Steinn, we are able to take a glimpse of the many places of Norway – Oslo, Bergen, Lake Eldrevatnet, the glaciers, the beautiful fjords among others.  I have never been to Norway, nor will likely to, but I take comfort that I have read it’s wonderful sceneries in an equally wonderful book.

(The Castle in the Pyrenees is a Magritte painting of a huge lamp of rock floating above the ground with a castle on top of it.  Solrun and Steinn once posted a picture in their bedroom and tried to solve quite differently the phenomenon  of the suspended rock, thus the title of the book.)