Michael Mcclelland's Reviews > The Castle in the Pyrenees

The Castle in the Pyrenees by Jostein Gaarder
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Aug 01, 11


This work primarily concerns itself with the human soul: its existence (or otherwise) and its continuance (or otherwise) after material death. The protaganists are a former couple who meet again, in strangely coincidental circumstances, a number of years after a shared - and only gradually revealed - experience that put them at fundamentally opposite philisophical odds and drove them apart. Naturally, as no hard-and-fast conclusions can be drawn regarding the human soul, the book is perhaps as much about the power of belief and its potentially destructive and divisive power; demonstrated here in the end of a couple.



In what must be a 21st century nod to Plato's Dialogues, the entire story consists of the two main character's emails to each other following their unscheduled meeting and reconnection. At times this device is a little clunky and the email contents are not entirely convincing, however necessary they are to progress the story without a narrator. The main concern though is pacing. Progress is achingly slow for much of the book. It's not until the teasing of the reader with continual references to "The Lingonberry Woman" and "that day" grow tiresome, that the unveiling of what occurred in the past is begun. The time is as much spent on demonstrating the character's earlier depth of connection as it is a platfrom to waffle on about their present divergent metaphysical viewpoints.



When the book eventually turns to the experience that broke them, it is a turn for the better. What occurred is unexpected, but not as unexpected as the final "spooky twist", wrapped up in the typical wonder and awe of a Gaarder finish.
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