Friday, 4 June 2010
Foreign Language Friday: The Orange Girl
There are three main characters: Georg, his father, and the elusive and mysterious orange girl. I won't give away who the orange girl actually is because that would spoil the element of mystery. But, well, without giving her away she's very much the mysterious girl-you'll-never-meet-again type. So it's awesome that Georg's father goes after her instead of staring at her until she gets slightly creeped out and walks away. He has the guts to follow her, to find out where she's from, and though it borders slightly on obsession, when they actually fall in love it makes me sigh in a happy sort of way.
Georg himself appears to be the "main" character, and he's nice enough, I suppose. He doesn't seem as real as his dad, who we travel alongside in the story. We're on the tram with him the first time he encounters the Orange girl, and the courtyard in Seville with him when they reunite. but the real story is all about Jan Olav (his dad). We watch Georg; we live with his dad.
Despite the moments of philosophical wonder, it is somewhat syrupy sweet, simplistic and joyful. As a fan of apocalypse novels and other such grim stuff, I find it nice to read something happy now and again. Other readers might not feel the same way. But, well, let this joyfulness not be a problem! It's a quick read, but you'll finish it feeling a little wiser than you were at the start.
I read a review which said that apparently with many references to places in Europe, and translated into British English, it may seem "awkward for the American reader". All I can say is, sorry, neighbours, but we must put up with books in American English with references to places in the US. Not that this seems to be a problem this side of the pond because we're used to it. Anyway, let that not be a flaw in the story.
Summary: Everybody calls it a "fairytale" and, well, it is. It's a nice enough read, not with the same mind-blowing "wow! ladies and gentlemen, we are floating in Space!" (you have to read it to get that) element to it. Still worth a read for all Gaarder fans old and new, young or old. Rating: 3.75, with 1 and a quarter knocked off for the simplicity and happiness, which some people might not like.