Melody
ISBN-13: 9780753819920
Publisher: Phoenix
Published: 2005
151 pgs
Translator: James Anderson



Georg Reed does not really know his father, after all he died when little Georg was four. Now after eleven years, Georg discovers a letter addressing to him. Intrigued by the mystery and wanting to know more about his father, Georg began reading his letter, which comes in the form of a story.

The opening of the letter is intriguing enough, for Georg's father wrote the letter the way he knew he was going to die and would be read by Georg in the future. Georg is captivated by his father's story and about the Orange Girl, a girl whom his father met on a tram when he was just nineteen. He named her the Orange Girl because she was seen carrying a bag full of oranges, but he made a fool of himself of the girl while trying to save her bag of oranges when they threatened to fall off from the bag. Georg's father could not forget the Orange Girl from then onwards, and he tried to find her again by chance on several occasions. He succeeded, and their friendship began.

There is much intrigue and mystery surrounding the Orange Girl when I began to read about this story. It is a love story between the Orange Girl and Georg's father (the identity of the Orange Girl remains a mystery until it struck me who she is towards the middle of the story). Besides love, it is also a book about kinship, as Georg's father communicated his feelings and thoughts through a long letter after he had passed away. He told his story about how he had met the Orange Girl, and how his choice on their fairytale-like relationship had in turn started or changed everything. Besides telling Georg his story, he also had a question to Georg which I find is a thought-provoking one for all.

Imagine that you were on the threshold of this fairytale, sometime billions of years ago when everything was created. And you were able to choose whether you wanted to be born to a life on this planet at some point. You wouldn't know when you were going to be born, nor how long you'd live for, but at any event it wouldn't be more than a few years. All you'd know was that, if you chose to come into the world at some point, you'd also have to leave it again one day and go away from everything. What would you have chosen if you'd had the chance? Would you have elected to live a short span on earth only to be wrenched away from it all, never ever to return? Or would you have said no, thank you?

The story is written in two POVs - Georg being the narrator, and Georg's father through the letter. I really liked Jostein Gaarder's style of portraying this story in a magical way, starting from Georg's father's encounter with the Orange Girl till the end when he asked Georg the above question. I marvel at Jostein Gaarder's creativity of weaving this magical story from the ordinary, everyday's life issues without making it dull or depressing at all, no matter how close they are to reality that is. I would say it is a powerful book; one remarkable story that led me into thinking of the meaning of life and death, and how life could be appreciated even in small, simple ways. It is truly a wonderful story that will not only enthrall the younger readers but to the adults as well.

23 Responses
  1. Alice Teh Says:

    Life is indeed a precious thing. Great review, Melody!


  2. BooksPlease Says:

    Jostein Gaarder is one of my favourites - I just have to add this to my to-be-read list!


  3. Sandy Nawrot Says:

    I LOVE stories that are told through letters. I can't say exactly why, but I think it adds to the mystery.


  4. mariel Says:

    I have never read Gaarder, but this sounds lovely! Thanks.


  5. Nymeth Says:

    This sounds so good! I enjoyed Gaarder's Sophie's World and loved Brief Life/That Same Flower. I have no idea why I haven't read more by him.


  6. naida Says:

    it does sounds very good, and what a sweet cover.
    great review.
    http://thebookworm07.blogspot.com/


  7. Melody Says:

    Alice - Thanks! Indeed life is a precious thing! :)

    Margaret - Jostein is a new author to me. I can't wait to read his other books in future!

    Sandy - I hope you'll read this book if you get the chance.

    Mariel - This is the first book I read by Jostein, but definitely not my last! :)

    Nymeth - I really enjoyed reading it! I can't wait to read Sophie's World as I've heard so many great reviews about it.

    Naida - Thanks! I love the cover too! :)


  8. violetcrush Says:

    I kind of thought that the girl was called orange girl because she either used to sell oranges or maybe steal them. I was a little off :)
    Sounds like a good book.


  9. Melody Says:

    Violet - That's what I thought initially, LOL. I hope you'll read it if you get the chance. :)


  10. Julia Says:

    This sound like a good book reading. I love to read a book where the story is told by the letters. This remind me so much of one of Suzanne Brockmann's LETTER TO KELLY. It is a very beautiful and awesome read. I enjoy it. It also remind me of one of the male author -- I forgot his name -- who I think also wrote THE NOTEBOOK, am I right? The book title I'm thinking of, I think had the name "Nathan" to it's titles...or something like that..

    Anyway interesting book, I might pick this up. Great review as always :)


  11. Melody Says:

    Julia - I really enjoyed reading this book.

    The one you mentioned must be Nicholas Sparks. His books are good too, a little sad but yet romantic.

    I'm glad to hear you might pick up this book! ;)


  12. Debi Says:

    Oh Melody, what a wonderful, wonderful review! You've made me want to read this soooo badly! I've never read any of Gaarder's work, but I did buy Sophie's World a few months back because it sounded wonderful, too.


  13. Melody Says:

    Debi - Thank you! :) This is my first book by Gaarder, but definitely not my last! I hope you'll read this if you get the chance.


  14. Trish Says:

    I notice this one is translated...what's the original country/language? This one sounds good and I might try to find it for Bethany's Orbis challenge in a few months.


  15. Melody Says:

    Trish - Oops! I forgot to mention that the author is norwegian. ;P I'm glad to hear you might add this book to your wishlist.


  16. Julia Says:

    Hmm...I think it was James patterson, isn't that the name? I think he wrote LETTER TO NICKOLAS ( if am not wrong with the titles). I saw his latest book on shelf today with the name "Tiffany" to one of the word in his titles. The back blurb sound good though


  17. Melody Says:

    Julia - Ah, yes! I think I've seen that book by him but I just couldn't remember the actual title. ;)


  18. Iliana Says:

    Ah, I didn't realize this was a YA book. Not that it matters because it just sounds too good to pass up.

    Sophie's World by Gaarder is also very magical and just really interesting. I recommend that one when you want to revisit the author!

    Anyway, thank you for this great review!


  19. I am not familiar with this book at all, but now I am intrigued. Thank you for yet another wonderful review, Melody.


  20. Melody Says:

    Iliana - Thanks, Iliana! I'll have to keep a look out for Sophie's World! I've heard a lot of good things about this book! :)

    Wendy - I hope you'll enjoy it if you get to it. :)


  21. Anonymous Says:

    If you like books written as letters i recommend 'Daddy Long legs' and 'Salmon Fishing in the Yemen'. A lovely book and a great review...


  22. JoV Says:

    I felt as if you might be from my neck of the wood. South East Asian?

    Found your blog through google and posted a review of Orange Girl link up to yours, see:
    http://bibliojunkie.wordpress.com/2011/04/11/the-orange-girl-by-jostein-gaarder/

    When I was younger I read 张小娴 too!


  23. Melody Says:

    Hi JoV, thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog!

    Yes, am definitely a South East Asian. :)