A blog of endless curiosity
Magritte’s famous painting the Castle in the Pyrenees depicts a castle in the air, floating above the sea. Jostein Gaarder’s novel of the same name evokes that feeling. Two former lovers, Solrun and Stein bound together and pushed apart by their experiences, meet again by accident and begin to exchange stories of their lives by email. The correspondence style is wonderfully intimate, and gives the reader an almost voyeuristic view into the thoughts of this fascinating couple. They talk about their lives in their thirty years apart, and their shared memories, with the tantalising hint of a crime forever in the subconscious of their thoughts. Set in beautiful rural Norway, ‘The Castle in the Pyrenees’ is a love story, but also a reflection on fate, memory and the forces – perhaps beyond the mettle of science to explain – that shape our lives.
It does sometimes feel as though Gaarder is using it as his own personal soapbox, to proclaim his thoughts on life, the afterlife, and the cosmos. Stein’s dialogues on environmental science are interesting if you go into the book expecting to learn something but often become verbose and lead frustratingly away from the plot. Gaarder brings it all back in at the end, however; an ending as spine-tingling as it is satisfying (Note: only satisfying if, like me you enjoy an ending that leaves some things for the reader to ponder for themselves. If not, it’ll infuriate you).
ps. It may be just me but the fact that Jostein Gaarder looks as though he’s an ABBA member makes me fonder of the book.