“Are you sitting comfortably, George? It’s important that you’re at least sitting straight , because I’m about to tell you a nailbiting story…..”
I would not use the word ‘nail biting’ to describe Jostein Gaardner‘s book, The Orange Girl; yet, there is something about the book that you cannot put a finger on. A certain elusiveness, a certain restraint. Philosophy packed in little capsules that take their time to grow on you; that would be lost if you are not attentive enough.
The story starts out with a young father’s letter to his son, unearthed many years later. Feelings, once well camouflaged, come out into the open, revealing old wounds and healing them at the same time. The father, aware of his short-lived time on earth, writes about his journey in search of the Orange Girl. It’s probably hard to imagine a similar thing happening around us – it would be termed too impractical”, but the magic woven into the story keeps you hooked.
“..after that brief meeting the café, my search for the Orange Girl began in its systematic and logical phase, for again there were many long days when I didn’t even catch a glimpse of her..”
Before you know it, you are caught up in the search as well; though at times you do not know what you are searching for.. the orange girl? Or the truth of Life? Or maybe, both?
“…but many people live their entire lives without realising that they’re floating through empty space. There’s too much going down here. It’s hard enough thinking about your looks. “
True.. The myriad trivial things we worry about.. our looks, our work.. rather than just living in the moment, taking in the world as it comes. At places, the book just silences with questions that seem innocent but can scare the living daylights out of you. See this :”
“….how much is a person worth? Are we nothing but dust whipped up and spread to the winds? “
Woven into the story are phrases that just so exquisitely beautiful, that you read them over and over again, feeling the words on your tongue, tasting every syllable like a refreshing sip of cold coffee, or the rich aroma of dark chocolate.
“…the world was just one sparkling fairytale…[..] a roe deer suddenly leaps from a thicket, stares intently at you for a second- and is gone. What kind of soul gives motion to that animal? What sort of unfathomable power decorates the earth with flowers in every colour of the rainbow and adorns the night sky with a sumptuous lacework of twinkling stars? [….] Look at the world, Georg, look at the world before you’ve filled yourself with too much physics and chemistry..[…] Don’t tell me that nature isn’t a miracle.
The most important question that the book poses.. something that probably does not have an answer.. even if we send our lifetime looking for an answer.. is this :
“…What would you have chosen, Georg, if there had been some higher power that gave you the choice? […] Would you have chosen to live a life on earth at some point, whether short or long, in a hundred thousand or a hundred million years? […] Or would you have refused to join in the game because you didn’t like the rules? “
So, what would YOU choose? Whatever your answer might be, it sure is an interesting journey, through the pages of the Orange Girl.
Lucky you! 🙂