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The Solitaire Mystery: A Novel About Family and Destiny

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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. Structure 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 of cards—each chapter is one in the deck—"The Solitaire Mystery" weaves together fantasy and reality, fairy tales and family history. Full of questions about the meaning of life, it will spur its listeners to reexamine their own.


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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. Structure 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 of cards—each chapter is one in the deck—"The Solitaire Mystery" weaves together fantasy and reality, fairy tales and family history. Full of questions about the meaning of life, it will spur its listeners to reexamine their own.

30 review for The Solitaire Mystery: A Novel About Family and Destiny

  1. 5 out of 5

    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 u 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 that they are actually engaging in philosophy. The book follows two seemingly separate stories: Hans-Thomas, and Sticky bun book. تاریخ نخستین خوانش: یکی از روزهای ماه فوریه سال 2002 میلادی عنوان: راز فال ورق؛ یوستین گوردر؛ مترجم: عباس مخبر؛ تهران، نشر مرکز، 1376، در ده، 386 ص، مصور، 9643053369؛ موضوع: داستانهای نویسندگان نروژی - سده 20 م از متن کتاب: هر کس از نوشابه­ ی رنگین‌کمان بنوشد، همه­ ی مزه‌ هایی را که پیشتر تجربه کرده، با اعضای بدنش نیز می‌تواند احساس کند. مثلا‌ً شوری و شیرینی را با نوک انگشت­ها احساس می­کند. پایان نقل از کتاب داستان «راز فال ورق»، درباره پسری به نام: «هانس توماس» است؛ که مادرش سالها پیش، او و همسر خویش را ترک کرده است. برهانی که نویسنده برای کار مادر «هانس» می‌آورد، این است که او در جستجوی هویت گمشده ی خویش به سفر رفته است. «هانس» شخصیت ویژه ای دارد. آنگاه که در مجله ی مانکنها، تصویر مادر خویش را می‌بینند، متوجه می‌شود که او در یونان زندگی می‌کند، پدر خانواده تصمیم می‌گیرد، به جستجوی همسرش برود. برنده ی بلیط بخت ‌آزمایی می‌شوند، و پول لازم را برای سفر به دست می‌آورند. در مسیر حرکت به سوی یونان یک سلسله رویدادهای اسرارآمیز برای آنها پیش می‌آید، که تعلیق مناسبی را در داستان به ‌وجود می‌آورد. در طی سفر، با نانوایی آشنا می‌شوند، و او یک کتاب کوچک، که با حروف بسیار ریز نوشته شده، به «هانس» می‌دهد. «هانس» با کمک ذره ‌بینی، که کوتوله ‌ای به او داده، آغاز به خوانش کتاب می‌کند. از این لحظه به بعد، داستان به دو بخش تقسیم می‌شود. یکی رویدادهایی که برای «هانس» و پدرش روی می‌دهند، و دیگری رخدادهای و داستانهایی که در کتاب کوچک آورده شده. با رویدادهایی که روی می‌دهد، رفته ‌رفته داستان به قله ی هرم نزدیک می‌شود، تا خوانشگر به رمز و رازها، پی ببرد. بسیاری از رمزها در کتاب کوچک گنجانده شده است. مثل نوشابه رنگین‌ کمان، که هر کس از آن بنوشد، همه مزه ‌هایی را که پیشتر آزموده، با تمام اعضای بدن خویش میتواند احساس کند. شوری و شیرینی را می‌تواند با نوک انگشتهایش هم احساس کند. و ...؛ ا. شربیانی

  2. 5 out of 5

    ratna

    "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.< "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 have gone to work, but you have never been fully awake. It is different for the Joker, because he was put into this world with a flaw: he sees too deeply and too much." Truth is a lonely thing

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bionic Jean

    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 transcend this, and apply to all ages. The book ha 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 transcend this, and apply to all ages. The book has an interesting structure, with each chapter represented by a different card in a pack. From the start the reader is aware of an intriguing premise, and a subtext. The superficial story, which weaves together all the other themes, is narrated by a 12 year old boy, Hans Thomas, who lives in Arendal, in Norway. In the story, Hans Thomas and his father set out on a car trip to find Hans Thomas's mother, who had left them both eight years earlier, in order to "find herself". They drive through Europe, starting from their home in Arendal, intending to travel to Greece—the birthplace of philosophy—where they expect to find Hans Thomas's mother. But are Hans Thomas and his father really going to search for the boy's mother? Or is something more subtle happening? As Hans says, "It's always easier to ask than to answer." The book explores fantasy and reality, fairy tales and family history. It is supremely imaginative, with mystery piling on top of mystery. During the car ride, Hans Thomas discovers that his father is not just an embarrassing adult who collects jokers, (frequently butting into the card games of total strangers to ask if they would give him their joker) but that he himself is a bit of a philosopher. Hans Thomas is well aware of his father's little failings; his drinking and his need for frequent cigarette stops, but deduces that these enable him to philosophise about the universe. Their conversations are fascinating to Hans Thomas; full of questions about the meaning of life. During the stops, Hans Thomas has some strange experiences. In the first of these a strange little bearded man at a petrol station gives him a magnifying glass with the mysterious message, "You'll need it!" and gives them directions which take them miles out of their way to a village called Dorf. (view spoiler)[Then in Dorf, the baker gives Hans Thomas a bag containing four sticky buns. Inside the largest of these, Hans Thomas is amazed to find a miniature book, where the writing is too small to read with the naked eye, and needs a magnifying glass. The "sticky bun" book tells the story of an old baker whose grandfather had given him a few drops of a precious magical drink he called "Rainbow Fizz". The drink came from an island where the grandfather had been shipwrecked on as a young man, in 1842. (hide spoiler)] "I stepped inside and it was like slipping into another world. Baker Hans sat in a deep rocking chair and all over the room there were glass bowls with goldfish inside. In every corner a little piece of rainbow danced. But there weren't only goldfish here. I stood for a long time staring at objects I'd never seen before. It took many years before I could put into words what I saw there. There were ships in bottles, and conch shells, Buddha figures and precious stones, boomerangs and wooden dolls, old rapiers and swords, knives and pistols, Persian carpets and South American carpets made of llama wool. I particularly noticed a strange glass figure of an animal with a little pointed head and six legs. It was like a whirlwind from foreign lands. I might have heard of some of the things I saw, but this was long before I'd seen a photograph. The whole atmosphere in the cabin was totally different from the way I'd imagined it to be." The story switches between Hans Thomas's narration of each day, as they approach nearer and nearer to their destination and finding "Mama", and what he reads in the "sticky bun" book, which becomes increasingly fantastic, strange and dream-like. In the "sticky bun" book, the sailor describes finding himself on an island where a pack of cards have each come to life. As Hans Thomas secretly reads more of the tiny book with the magnifying glass, he discovers an astounding connection between himself and the sailor called Frode. Hans Thomas becomes determined to finally solve the mystery of the island, and the pack of cards. Life on the island seems to be full of strange rules, unknown spontaneous events and complex paradoxes. It reveals a great deal both about the world and about Hans Thomas himself, but increasingly throws up many more questions than it answers. The cards seem to talk nonsense, "The goldfish does not reveal the island's secret but the sticky bun does." "Why did all the dwarfs on the magic island have clubs drawn on their backs?" "The baker conceals the treasures from the magic island." "Sparkling drink paralyses joker's senses." Hans Thomas comments, "Although I understood almost every word they said, I couldn't grasp what they meant." As The Solitaire Mystery unfolds, so does the "sticky bun" book, and as each chapter of this novel has the title of a playing card, so each playing card is introduced in the "sticky bun" book. There is also a connection with a yearly calendar; a parallel between the weeks in the year and the 52 cards plus a Joker. The Joker is unique, as is the enchanting Ace of Hearts, whom Frode seems to be quite smitten with, even though she is always "losing herself". She it is who will have a different destiny, "I have finally found my way out of the labyrinth. I know now that I belong to a different shore ... I have crossed oceans and moods. I've struggled over mountains and difficult thoughts, but someone has shuffled the cards." As the two stories of Hans Thomas's journey and the events in the "sticky bun" book seem to start to overlap, Hans Thomas doggedly pursues the meaning and significance behind the "sticky bun" book. (view spoiler)[Why did the baker give it to him? (hide spoiler)] What does it all mean? Does it mean anything at all, or are the playing cards not "real", but just imagination? The thing which baffles Hans Thomas most is the element of chance. How can a tiny book found at random in a bun tell him things about his own life? "The sticky bun man shouts down a funnel so his voice carries hundreds of miles." "Destiny is a cauliflower head which grows equally in all directions." "The magic island crumbles from within." "The baker's son must find the way to the sea." Occasionally Hans Thomas has an inspiration, and understands the significance of one of the sentences spoken by one of the playing cards. He sees it as a prediction, and shouts it out delightedly to his father, who increasingly worries that Hans Thomas is talking gibberish. Do Hans Thomas and his father discover Hans Thomas's mother, or is she forever lost in the fairytale world of fashion? Well that would be telling. Throughout the story we have glimpsed a strange little bearded man following them about. The first time was when he gave Hans Thomas the magnifying glass which proved so useful to read the "sticky bun" book. He has reappeared inexplicably several times along the way, right through to a critical moment near the end. Whenever Hans Thomas approached the little man, he seemed to dash away and vanish. There are many elusive elements in the story, which features some unusual occurrences. But the family history, although complicated, is compelling, and fully explained in the end. Hans Thomas gradually unravels the mystery of the cards, and the knowledge he learns there about some events in the distant past, do shed a surprising light on his own life. This book is far better than an average YA novel, and the themes dealt with are fascinating and thought provoking. But it is also ultimately frustrating. Philosophical enquiry provides few answers, and is an uncomfortable medium to meld with a novel. Enquiries pertaining to the unknown aspects of human existence do not fit well within the framework of a story. The imagery is ingenious; certain ideas and images such as the pack of cards, the goldfish, "rainbow fizz", and the mysterious and undefinable perception of flavour will stay with me a long time. However it is better read as an elusive fantasy rather than a confused philosophical enquiry. It may make you re-examine some assumptions, or raise new questions; it may make you think. What it does not do is to provide any answers. As Socrates said, and the book quotes near the end, "All I know is that I know nothing." “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.”

  4. 5 out of 5

    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 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 murder, theft or abduction. This is a road trip that Hans with his father from Norway to Greece in search of his mother who left them when he was 4 year old to find herself. During this trip Hans not only discovered about his family curse but also come to know about his grandfather and a secret island of Dwarves. This book is a beautiful tale of story within story and concentrate on father-son relationship. This was surprisingly good. Will definitely going to reread it sometime.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Casey

    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.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Maeve

    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 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 entertaining than Sophie's World or Maya, this is essentially a clever children's book which is thought provoking, intelligently written and imaginative

  7. 4 out of 5

    PurplyCookie

    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 B 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 Hans, Albert Klages whose mother died when he was a child, Ludwig the German soldier and Frode who found himself stranded on an island with nothing but a pack of cards for company. This is a story-within-a-story in which fantasy and reality, the past and present, are brilliant mixed. Encapsulated is the advice that we should all try to be "jokers" in order to appreciate what is in front of us. "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." Very few books make one want to sit down and re-read them all through again after the first reading, but this is one of them. It is deceptively simple, yet the ideas are so striking that you can't work out why nobody ever pointed them out before. As the story progresses, the themes of the essence of being, of God's role in the world, destiny and the joy of being alive or of the beauty of the world resonate in both stories. "Our lives are part of a unique adventure. Nevertheless, most of us think that the world is 'normal' and are constantly hunting for something abnormal. But that is just because we don't realise the world is a mystery. As for myself, I felt completely different. I saw the world as an amazing dream. I was hunting for some kind of explanation of how everything fitted together." Gaarder, a former philosophy teacher in Norway, concentrates on these aspects of philosophy, using both stories to illustrate his themes and intrigue his reader. At one point -- during their visit to Athens -- I was reminded of a theme utilized by a lot of authors (e.g. Gaiman) to explain the intertwining of religion and the passing of time: "But in a way they were in the world, as long as people believed in them. People see what they believe - the world didn't grow old or frayed at the edges until people started to doubt." Once you've read it you'll wonder why you never read it before. A classic plot, yet such a very new one. Simple yet incredibly complex, yet an intelligent child could understand it. "It's because the world has become a habit. Nobody would believe in the world if they hadn't spent years getting used to it. We have seen everything so many times before that we take reality for granted." A novel of ideas that is coherent and striking and memorable. Book Details: Title The Solitaire Mystery Author Jostein Gaarder Reviewed By Purplycookie

  8. 4 out of 5

    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 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 begins a story within a story within a story - threefold! Even my head was struggling to keep everything straight. During the story within the sticky bun book we learn of a magical island with 52 dwarves each a card from a pack of playing cards - so 2 of diamonds, king of spades etc. Throughout we learn that this information passes on to another every 52 years, and by the very end of the book we learn how this island and the men who have learned all of its secrets and treasures link in with Hans Thomas and his family. A very smart premise and it is a remarkably woven tale, I enjoyed it and the writing was wonderful, with even some philosophy thrown in! I just feel it was kind of tricky for me to get my head around, I was concentrating so much I didn't get to stop and actually enjoy the book itself. Still 3.5 I reckon.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Sharyl

    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 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 it worked very well, in its own way. Eventually, I'd like to read more of Gaarder's novels. Excuse me, may I have your Joker? Good read!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nadia Mohammed

    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 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 five

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mahmoud ElNagdi

    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.”

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    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 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 shipwrecked sailor and a magical island populated by a suit of cards that mysteriously came to life. But as Hans Thomas reads further, he realizes that the story in the sticky bun book relates to him and his family, and it might not be entirely fictional. The story switches back and forth between philosophical conversations between Hans Thomas and his father, and the fantastic story in the sticky bun book. This keeps the book balanced so it does not become too silly. I thoroughly enjoyed this book, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for light, uplifting summer reading. This story will leave you smiling. Though the book is shelved in the adult section of the library, it contains no content that is inappropriate for older children or teens. In fact, children beginning to outgrow Roald Dahl's stories would probably enjoy this book very much.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Roza Alani

    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

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hugo

    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 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 everyday. We are so distracted by what we created that we forget to stop for a moment and think, why are we here? Where do we come from? What is our purpose to live? Seem like some clueless questions to so many people, seem like some clueless questions to me. But, it is not solely the answer that is valued, the process of finding itself is a extremely precious experience to all of us. The answers to these questions are not going to be known by human, I believe. Or at least no one can prove their hypotheses. Nevertheless, it is crucial for us to at least think about it, even just for a minute. Otherwise, we are just not living. I believe everyone at some points will think about it for a while. For me, this is my first time. There is just one point that I feel hard to agree with, and that is that there is someone, some supernatural being, created us. There is the line "God is sitting in heaven laughing because people don't believe in him". This is not an argument. This is just an opinion. With all the reasons that he has shown in this book, this is one of the most illogical comment that he wrote. There might be a god above, true. There is no way to prove it. I can't prove it. But, to say this, it is more like tricking people into agreeing it. There is no way to prove it, so you can't prove me wrong! Of course he doesn't mean that. But as a science student, I won't, or can't, buy this just because you say so. I need prove(s).

  15. 5 out of 5

    Febz Beloy

    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 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 like I've also tasted the Rainbow Fizz and felt all tingling sensations and delicious flavors - the strawberries surging through my upper body, a hint of lemon tickling my left ear, a dash of kurberry hitting my head and all the other flavors of honey, lavender, ringroot and gramines twirling around in my stomach. Reading the book at this point of my life wherein I already got used to the earth is such a marvelous turning point. It made me realize that the world itself is a mystery and I am part of a great game of solitaire. It made me feel blessed and thankful that I have been given this wonderful opportunity to "play" this game and it made me treasure life's simple but amazing moments. I am a living person and if each time I wake up and celebrate that thought my day would be charged with energy at all the endless possibilities I can offer the world and the world can offer me. Like the cards, my body would also be ravaged by time but the thoughts and magical ideas i spurn in my head will forever be indented in this world.:) For those tired spiritual adventurers who feel lost in this planet, take a sip of this magical book and feel yourself re-charged and ready to take on another magical journey. The mind sees what it wants to believe. So, why not believe in magic, goodness and optimism instead?:)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lauren Langford

    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.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Maria Espadinha

    "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."

  18. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    "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 c "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 inside the bakery. He looked down at me and waved for me to come outside." "The stars glittered above me like distanct islands I would never reach under this boat's sail. It was strange to thing I was under the same sky as Mother and Father back in Lubeck. Although we could see the same stars, we were so infinitely far apart from each other. Because stars don't gossip, Albert. They don't care how we live our lives on earth." "Although you may not stumble across a Martian in the garden, you might stumble across yourself. The day that happens, you'll probably scream a little. And that'll be perfectly all right, because it's not every day you realize you're a living planet dweller on a little island in the universe." "In return, I appreciate how fantastically lucky I am to be able to experience this planet together with you. I realize how lucky every single little crawling insect on this planet is. " "Our lives are part of a unique adventrue, I thought to myself. Nevertheless, most of us think the world is "normal" and are constantly hunting for something abnormal--like angels or Martians. But that is just because we don't realize the world is a mystery. As for myself, I felt completely different. I saw the world as an amazing dream. I was hunting for some kind of explanation of how everything fit together." "I was brimming with all these thoughts and feelings, which made me feel happy and sad at the same time. They made me feel lonely, too, but this kind of loneliness was good." "It was obvious the people on the boat were not aware of everything they did. Every little movement was not consciously made. In a way they were more alive than they were conscious." "If our brain was simple enough for us to understand it, we would be so stupid we wouldn't be able to understand it after all." "...you couldn't just taste the Rainbow Soda in your mouth and throat, you could taste it in every single cell of your body. But it's not healthy to consume the whole world in one gulp, my boy--it's much better to take it in small doses." "And people who are satisfied with what they know can never be philosophers." "When you realize there is something you don't understand, then you're generally on the right path to understanding all kinds of things." "A young child sits building sandcastles in a sandbox. It constantly builds something new, something which it treasures for only a moment before it knocks it all down again. In the same way Time has been given a planet to play with. This is where the history of the world is written, this is where the events are engraved--and smoothed over again. This is where life bubbles like in a witch's cauldron. One day we'll be modeled here, too--from the same brittle material as our ancestors. The wind of Time blows through us, carries us and is us--then drops us again. We are conjured up and tricked away. There is always something lying and brewing in anticipation of taking our place. Because we're not standing on solid ground, we're not even standing on sand--we are sand." "It was the same with everything--with the whole world, I thought to myslef. As long as wea re children, we have the ability to experience things around us--but then we grow used to the world. To grow up is to get drunk on sensory experience."

  19. 4 out of 5

    Colin Albin

    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 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 Europe to Greece, in order to find and bring home their wife and mother. However, the journey leads the young boy into a complex, unknown world. This fascinating sub-plot is effectively a book within a book. Playing cards form an important part of the story. The father collects jokers and the book is structured into 52 chapters, with each chapter represented by a particular card. The boy is given a magnifying glass by a dwarf and a miniature book by a friendly baker. In addition, he is told to keep the book secret. As they drive across Europe, the boy takes whatever opportunities he can to read the book with the magnifying glass. As he does so, a strange tale unfolds. A Sailor is shipwrecked on a desert island which is unlike any other part of the world in which we live. Not only are there creatures and fruits that are unknown elsewhere, but there are also dwarfs who represent each of the 52 cards. This world hovers tantalisingly between fantasy and reality, past and present. In fact, it appears to overlap with the boy’s own experience along the journey. The sub-plot is quite compelling and the boy’s desire to read more from the miniature book drives the reader on to also want to know more. It is in some ways reminiscent of Alice in Wonderland, yet it is unique in its own way. The father is something of an amateur philosopher and the dialogue between him and his son enables Gaarder to introduce a range of philosophical ideas, as well as some teaching about the early Greeks and their gods. The things which the boy learns from reading about the island enable him to enter more fully into this philosophical debate. There is one particularly enlightening moment towards the end when the father explains why most people drift through life without ever stopping to marvel at it all. He says that children are continually excited by what they see and hear, but for adults the world has simply become a habit. I did thoroughly enjoy this book, although I do not think it is as good as his bestseller, Sophie’s World. Nevertheless, it is an impressive achievement with lots of interesting twists and turns. It is a stimulating read and raises countless questions about the way the world is, and whether or not there is a creator. I will certainly never look at a pack of cards in the same way again, having read about a living pack which inhabited a desert island. P232:- “Do you know why most people just shuffle around the world without marvelling at everything they see?” “It’s because the world has become a habit...Nobody would believe in the world if they hadn’t spent years getting used to it. We can study this in children. They are so impressed by everything they see around them that they can’t believe their eyes. That’s why they point here and there and ask about everything they lay their eyes on. It’s different with us adults. We have seen everything so many times before that we take reality for granted.”

  20. 4 out of 5

    Bethany

    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...

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sundus

    ...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!!!

  22. 4 out of 5

    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 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 to him. No way will I spoil the plot by revealing the circumstances. It becomes his travel reading, and is soon clear to him that this is not just any book, but has direct bearing on his own life. It's also a story with similarities to onion layers or Babushka dolls. The person who wrote it is merely repeating what he was told by someone else, who got it from another person, and so on, back to Frode, a man who was shipwrecked in the nineteenth century and began making up lonely games with his deck of cards. The story-within-a-story turns out to be about readers like us, too. It's a colorful and sensual novel, full of descriptions of many wonderful things. I wish it was published as one of those large, hard-cover versions with vivid illustrations. I'd go straight out and buy one. Being unable to drive across Europe myself, it was magical sharing Hans Thomas and Dad's adventure. The 'real' section is just as much of a fairy tale as what the boy reads in the book. Especially since it involves snow capped German mountain peaks, gondola rides in Venice and a walk through the Acropolis in Greece. Along their way, the story delves into topics such as synchronicity, destiny and collective consciousness in a highly original way. How many other books would you come across with sentences such as, 'The dwarf stole the sticky-bun book!' That's just a teaser for you. Hans Thomas' Dad was one of my favorite characters, providing many of the quirks and pauses for reflection. For a start, he collects jokers, often throwing away the rest of the card deck like a banana peel. The joker theme became one which really stuck with me. Hans Thomas suspects that Dad has an affinity with the joker, considering himself a little fool who doesn't fit into any group, but is perhaps more far-sighted and clear-thinking than those who do. Another great aspect of the book is opening our eyes to the incredible world in which we live. Several characters come to realize that it is folly to rush around feeling bored, and seeking experiences with elusive supernatural beings such as ghosts, angels or Martians, when all along, we ourselves are miraculous examples of God's sublime creation. Perhaps my favorite two trains of thought are brought together when Hans Thomas' Dad says, 'If just one of these thousands of people experience life like a crazy adventure every single day, then he or she is a joker in a deck of cards.' I have a feeling that hanging out with Jostein Gaarder might be similar to spending time with Hans Thomas' Dad, and that he considers himself a joker too.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Roisin

    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 o 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 and intellectually superior to everyone (I think she still is). She happened to be reading it, and so I somehow, although I don't remember how, started reading it too. There are only a few other books that have captivated me in the same way: The Sparrow is one. And I guess the similarity is this: they both involve science fiction or fantasy, and they are both philosophical. I love aliens and I love wizards and dwarves and magic and stuff, but what I love more than anything else is a book the deals well with philosophy. I like books that make me think about human nature and the meaning of life and where the world came from and if there's a god, and what if there isn't a god?. I love books that have some sort of existential crisis involved. As far as I can remember (and my memory sucks by the way, and so does yours. Seriously, check out A Mind of its Own: How Your Brain Distorts and Deceives if you don't believe me), The Solitaire Mystery involved an existential crisis. It's a depressing book but it has an uplifting message. And there are cards. It's all very organised which appeals to my categorical side. Over the years I read it several times but it's probably been about 10 years since I last did. That seems an awfully long time for one of my favourite books to sit on the shelf. There have been several times in the past year I've looked at it. Usually I'm just inspecting the bookshelf for some reason (probably for comfort), and I pick it up and flip it open and think about how great it is and where have the years gone, and yes I smell the pages. But I haven't read it yet. I'm almost afraid to read it in case my younger self had terrible taste in books or was just so different from my current self that it just won't be the same - not as wonderful, not as magical, not as captivating. But....I'm into grabbing my fears by the hand and going forth anyway. So reread I will. Sometime this year. It's my only New Years Resolution.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sirilpotter

    (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 (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 his writing. Lastly one of my favourite quotations from the book: "Her jeg satt, synes jeg det var så uendelig trist at vi mennesker er laget slik at vi venner oss til noe så ufattelig som å leve. Plutselig en dag tar vi det for gitt at vi er til - og så, ja så tenker vi ikke noe vidre over det før vi er i ferd med å forlate verden igjen." (My translation, that is far from perfect: "Where I sat, I thought it was infinitely sad that humans are made so that we get used to something as uncomprehensible as living. Suddenly, one day we take it for granted that we exist - and then, yes, then we don't think any more of it until we are on the brink of leaving the world again.") Recommended for both children, youths and adults! Absolutely worth a read (or several)!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Muhammad

    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 freed 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/her way. joker is a symbol of personal existence, rebelion, and wiser live. btw, this novel is nice combination of fairy tales and philosophy. great.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Zoe

    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.

  27. 5 out of 5

    soumaya

    This is absolutely mind blowinggggg !! Jostein Gaarder is such a genius..I simply enjoyed every single word of this novel.. It's just a beautiful mixture between philosophy and fiction ..you will love it for sure ! "علينا نحن أن نذكر الناس أن العالم هو أجمل وأغرب مغامرة موجودة"

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tina ➹ the girl who lives in Fandoms (Book.Enchantress)

    5 Golden Stars 91% 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.😍✌

  29. 4 out of 5

    Dornaz

    Every time I read it I gain Something new about it and according to me This book and specially The Joker's character which is the most mystrious part of the book can change anyone's attitude toward living their lives and ofcourse it did change mine! ☺

  30. 5 out of 5

    Marina

    Thankyou Gramedia I've got 50% discount from IDR 79.000 into IDR 39.500! Happy Harbolnas Day! Now i'm waiting for it is being delivered to my house! >_<

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