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The Solitaire Mystery

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  21,488 ratings  ·  1,360 reviews
Hans Thomas and his father set out on a car trip through Europe, from Norway to Greece—the birthplace of philosophy—in search of Hans Thomas's mother, who left them many years earlier. On the way, Hans Thomas receives a mysterious miniature book—the fantastic memoir of a sailor shipwrecked in 1842 on a strange island where a deck of cards come to life.

Structured as a deck
Hardcover, 309 pages
Published June 1st 1996 by Farrar Straus & Giroux (first published 1990)
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Beate The Christmas Mystery by the same author is in many ways like this. A story inside a story, connecting through time and space. It's always given me th…moreThe Christmas Mystery by the same author is in many ways like this. A story inside a story, connecting through time and space. It's always given me the same feel.(less)

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Average rating 4.17  · 
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Ahmad Sharabiani
Kabalmysteriet = The Solitaire Mystery, Jostein Gaarder
The Solitaire Mystery (Norwegian: Kabalmysteriet) is a 1990 fantasy novel by Jostein Gaarder, the Norwegian author of the best-selling Sophie's World. Its main target audience is young adults, but the themes of the book transcend any age group. The Solitaire Mystery, as with Sophie's World, has a philosophical content but, unlike Sophie's World, it does not explicitly mention philosophers and theories; thus readers of the book may be unaware
Jul 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"I don't belong anywhere.
I am neither a heart, a diamond, a club, nor a spade. I am neither a King, a Jack, an Eight, nor an Ace.
As I am here - I am merely the Joker, and who that is I have had to find out for myself.

Every time I toss my head, the jingling bells remind me that I have no family.
I have no number - and no trade either.
I have gone around observing your activities from the outside.
Because of this I have also been able to see things to which you have been blind.

Every morning you h
Bionic Jean
May 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
The Solitaire Mystery is a very unusual fantasy novel by the Norwegian author Jostein Gaarder, the first novel he wrote after his bestselling "Sophie's World". It was published in 1990 as "Kabalmysteriet", and won the Norwegian Critics Prize for Literature. In common with "Sophie's World", it has a lot of philosophical content, although The Solitaire Mystery does not specify particular philosophers, or explicitly refer to philosophical theories. It can be read as a YA novel, but the themes trans ...more
Aug 07, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This is my all-time favorite book, and Gaarder is one of my all-time favorite authors. His sophomore effort is the strongest, I feel, for many reasons - complex enough to keep you interested, interesting and whimsical enough to keep it light, and new enough (in his works) that the story within a story (within a story) had yet become cliche.

I generally don't believe in destiny, but this book makes me want to believe.
Em Lost In Books
I suggested a "translation theme" to my small group of GR friends for this weekend (which later turned into mystery translation), and this was the book that came to my mind. It was short to read over the weekend, a translation, and has been out under mystery category by GR members. To be honest, I thought it to be a murder mystery with a 12 year old protagonist. But once I started reading I found that I was very wrong. Once I finished reading this book, I told myself not every mystery is about m ...more
Aug 13, 2007 rated it really liked it
You can really read this book at any age and appreciate it on different levels every time. On one level this is a mystical tale about a Norwegian boy and his father driving across Europe to find the boy's mother who left his father several years/months (time isn't exactly linear in this novel).

Along the way, the boy is given a tiny little book hidden in a sticky bun and then a magnifying glass with which to read the book. In the book unfolds a fantastical tale about life of an island.

Much more e
This novel, which was published in Norway before "Sophie's World", is another offbeat, delightful ontology masquerading as an ingeniously constructed fairy tale. It tells the story of the 12-year-old Hans Thomas, who is driving with his father from Norway to Greece in a quest to retrieve his errant mother.

I was captivated by the twin storyline of Hans Thomas who left Norway with his philosophical father in search of his mother who had "went out into the world to find herself"; and that of Baker
Charlotte May
I'm really toying the line between 3 and 4 stars so I've settled with 3.5. It's a hard one, as the concept with this book was so clever and different; and it's not like me to say but I almost think it was too different.
Hans Thomas and his father travel across Europe in search of his mother, who they believe is in Athens.
While on this journey Hans Thomas is given a magnifying glass by a dwarf and shortly after 4 sticky buns from a baker, the largest one containing a very small book inside.
So b
Apr 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016-reads
I may never look at a deck of cards the same way again. The Solitaire Mystery is another imaginative, clever, and thought-provoking philosophical tale by Jostein Gaarder. This time, the protagonist is a 12-year-old boy named Hans Thomas, a bright boy who is quickly exiting childhood and trying to make sense of the world around him.

This story does not have too much in common with Sophie's World--it's much more like a fairy tale. I did not expect this, and yet--I enjoyed it very much, and thought
Jun 02, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Anna by: Bridget
Shelves: fiction
The author of 'The Solitaire Mystery' is better known for Sophie's World, a famous novel that I began as a teenager then quickly abandoned. I can't remember why, as I was hardly a picky reader then. I read a 700 page memoir by Chairman Mao's personal doctor, for goodness sake. (It's called The Private Life of Chairman Mao.) After reading 'The Solitaire Mystery', however, I got an inkling. I will say this for it, 'The Solitaire Mystery' kept my mind off the apocalyptic state of the world for a fe ...more
Nadia Mohammed
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Warning : once you start reading Jostein Gaarder you will never recover, nothing around you will look the same again so be ready to see the world through the eyes of a child be ready to burst into a state of wonder and jump out of your conciousness bounderies you never know, you might be the next joker in a pack of cards
after sofie's world I was confused how I'm going to rate this book for all the knowledge I gained from the first but something touches you that deep shouldn't be rated less than
Mahmoud ElNagdi
Jun 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It left me with so many questions about the true nature of life and our surroundings. This book is a master piece in philosophy and a great fantasy adventure. I've loved every page of this book.

“Destiny is a cauliflower head which grows equally in all directions.”
Tina ➹ the girl who lives in Fandoms
4.5 Golden Stars

I remember I love this (more than others) when I read Philosophical novels 11 years ago. & yep this one is my favourite one in philosophy novels.
it was philosophy & kind of fiction. & there's sentences we should think about it seriously. it is beautiful.😍✌
This book is a modern fairy tale, a lighthearted philosophy lesson, and a reminder that life is a miraculous and beautiful gift. As the story begins, Hans Thomas and his father are traveling to Greece in search of Hans Thomas' long-lost mother. The plot thickens when a strange little man gives Hans Thomas a magnifying glass, and a kind old baker gives Hans Thomas a sticky bun containing a tiny book that can only be read using the magnifying glass. The book contains a fantastic fairy tale about a ...more
Maria Espadinha
Aug 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"A joker is a little fool who is different from everyone else. He's not a club, diamond, heart, or spade. He's not an eight or a nine, a king or a jack. He is an outsider. He is placed in the same pack as the other cards, but he doesn't belong there. Therefore, he can be removed without anybody missing him."
Jun 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Solitaire Mystery (1990) 
Author: Jostein Gaarder 
Read: 6/21/20 
Rating: 4/5 stars 

[ Spine poetry involves taking each word in a title (e.g. of a book, film, song, or television series) and applying it as the beginning word for each line. Thus, the number of words in the title determines the line length.]

The debut novel for Gaarder, and I find it to be his best work so far, though similar in structure and its focus on pedagogy as all his other well-known titles. 

Solitaire takes on a whole new
Roza Alani
Oct 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The most complex novel i've ever read.If your destiney has managed to meet someone,be sure you will whatever obsacles you will face
Amazing mystery by the amazing josteen
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
This is not the first Gaarder book I have read, but this is the very first book that I started understanding his philosophy, on lives, on religion and ultimately, on the universe.
I like this book very much. It opened me to a whole new way of looking at the world and at ourselves. It in some extent persuaded me to take philosophy as a breadth subject in uni. We are more than just ourselves, we are the consciousness of the universe. However, we are just too damn busy doing the things that we do ev
Febz Beloy
Jun 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
Like all Jostein Gaarder's books - the book is filled with interesting thoughts from the world of ideas.:) It makes you question your existence - questioning not laced with doubt but with wonder at the magnificence and utter wonder of this world. While reading the book - I was all at once the Joker who sees too much and too deeply, the Ace of Hearts who always has this habit of losing herself, Frode (the Master) who fills his mind with fantasies and dreams that would soon become reality. It was ...more
Lauren Langford
Mar 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
this book is pointless.
for all of its plot acrobatics and occasional moments of wisdom, ultimately this book feels shallow and empty and devoid of any real original message. the main characters were flat and unrealistic and in spite of their journey they did not develop much.
i had high hopes because it is a book with many positive reviews, but in the end it was just a regurgitation of everything written by philosophers who have come before.
Jun 18, 2011 added it
"I've thought a great deal about this. Dad came into the world because of a fall of Man, but can't everyone trace their roots back to Adam and Eve? I know the comparison stumbles a little. One case revolved around apples and the other around cowberries. But the inner tube which brought Granma and Grandpa together does look a little like the snake which tempted Adam and Eve."

"As I stared at the fish in the glass bowl, I suddenly noticed an old man with white hair standing behind the counter insid
Colin Albin
Oct 31, 2013 rated it really liked it
At the recent Cheltenham Literary Festival, Jostein Gaarder expressed a little bit of frustration that many people don’t seem to realize that he has written lots of other books, apart from Sophie’s World. This gave me the impetus to start reading some of his other novels and I have just completed The Solitaire Mystery, an intriguing book which demonstrates impressive powers of the imagination. The basic plot is quite a simple one: a father and son decide to go on a journey from Norway across Eur ...more
May 15, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one is a strange one.

This book did not have me reading frantically to find out what happens next, but it did have me thinking about the book quite a bit. I found it strange, magical, fascinating, quirky and oddly calming.

I will never think about the Joker in a deck of cards the same way again...
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
...God is sitting in heaven laughing because people don't believe in him..

Jostein Gaarder cleverly incorporates fantasy , philosophy, fairy tale and family history in this book thus making it a fantastic read!!!
Paula Vince
Hans Thomas is a young boy on a road trip across Europe with his Dad. Their ultimate aim is to track down his mother, who left them on a quest to 'find herself' when Hans Thomas was tiny. They've discovered she has a successful modelling career in Athens, so that's their destination. Dad has decided it's about time she came home, or at least talked things over.

On the way, Hans Thomas acquires a small magnifying glass, and a little further on, a tiny book with minuscule writing given especially t
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favourite books of all-time. It might even be my all-time favourite book. It's hard to say.

I first read it when I was 14 years old and my Tad-cu (said Da-key i.e., Grandpa) had just died. I depressed at the time, not because Tad-cu was dead (although that was sad, of course), I was already depressed when he died. I remember going to New Plymouth (which is where he lived) and my brother's girlfriend at the time came along. She was an aggressive sort of person. Very opinionated a
Jul 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(English title: The Solitaire Mystery)
Re-read this in preparation for my upcoming project on Jostein Gaarder in my last year of university!
It was even better than I remember it. An amazing story full of wonder and philosophy, beautiful language and devices that will make you question the world we live in.
It was also very refreshing to read something in Norwegian, as I usually read in English these days.
Gaarder remains one of my all-time favourite authors and I cannot wait to properly investigate
Sep 05, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
Hans Thomas, what a lovely boy ! but the most inspiring character in this novel is the joker. Joker is the wild card in the deck who knows almost everything. In the medieval culture, joker is kind of job in the palace. the joker have to entertain the royal family with his jokes.

but in the existentialist paradigm, joker is an unic personality. the joker is excluded from another 52 cards, independent, and fully freedom. ofcourse everybody shall be an unic person, who gain his/her freedom by his/he
Aug 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I must have read this book 100 times, at least. I remember reading this book as a young girl and was so fascinated by this world that Gaarder built. I looked up all the places mentioned in this book on a real map (There was no google map back then) and imagined in my little head.

I still have the copy somewhere and would love to read it again. I would recommend this book to any little girl who dreams of a different world, of a different time.
Alok Bhatta
Aug 25, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At some point in the book, I just couldn't help but wonder at the genius of the author's immaculate sense of creation. He has crafted his imaginary tale so elaborately to guide the readers through the underlying philosphy. A bigger picture seems to be rolling itself at all times. I would like a sip of Rainbow fizz too someday.
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Jostein Gaarder is a Norwegian intellectual and author of several novels, short stories, and children's books. Gaarder often writes from the perspective of children, exploring their sense of wonder about the world. He often uses meta-fiction in his works, writing stories within stories.

Gaarder was born into a pedagogical family. His best known work is the novel Sophie's World, subtitled "A Novel a

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