I have never read a book by Jostein Gaarder before, although am well aware of "Sophie's World" and the "Christmas Mystery", the stories of which never really made me want to read his books. So it doesn't surprise that I came across "Vita Brevis" by complete accident. I started reading the epilogue and was hooked immediately and did not put the book down before I finished reading it. Anybody with an interest in ancient culture and history, Latin or Greek languages or even Christian religion, should read this book as it really brings alive the history of ancient Rome and Catharge. But the story of Floria and Augustine works on a very human level, too. The book is in effect a letter, composed by Floria, to her former partner who left her to save his own soul. He is now known as Saint Augustine. Floria composed her letter after reading Augustine's "Confessions" and by reminding him of their life together she grants us, the people of today, an insight into life ~1500 years ago. This alone makes the book worth reading. But what is even more surprising is how little human interactions and emotions have changed since then and how applicable to modern life the things are Floria speaks about in her letter. Floria, without a doubt, was a very well educated and intelligent woman but her foresight in respect to the treatment of women by the Catholic Church is quite simply extraordinary.
All in all, a very tragic story that will give you goosebumps that will touch you on a very personal level and that will give you heaps to think about.