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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you a joker?
A dwarf with a magnifying glass, a miniature book inside a sticky bun, a dad with a passion for playing card jokers and philosophising, all add up to one weird journey for 12 year-old Hans Thomas.
It is a journey that is difficult emotionally for both Hans and his father. They are driving from Norway to Greece to find Hans’ mother who left eight years ago to...
Published on 17 Feb 2006

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but a little smug?
A lovely, interesting tale, but I can't help feeling there's something a bit smug about it? It's the suggestion that most people don't think about the deeper stuff. I think most people do.
Published 2 months ago by S. Robinson


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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Are you a joker?, 17 Feb 2006
By A Customer
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
A dwarf with a magnifying glass, a miniature book inside a sticky bun, a dad with a passion for playing card jokers and philosophising, all add up to one weird journey for 12 year-old Hans Thomas.
It is a journey that is difficult emotionally for both Hans and his father. They are driving from Norway to Greece to find Hans’ mother who left eight years ago to ‘find herself’.
This is another delightfully deceptive book by Jostein Gaarder, the Norwegian author of the best-selling Sophie’s World. Hidden within the exterior of a simple mystery story, Gaarder presents his reader with a view of life that causes one to stop, pause and ponder.
Hans finds that the story of his miniature book intertwines with the story of his life. This is cleverly reflected in the chapter alternation between the two stories. All the chapters are named from a playing card.
As Gaarder progresses through the suits, Hans has to figure out what exactly is the reality that is unfolding. The journey, both literally and through the miniature book’s story, makes Hans face some big questions of life.
This book is all about those ‘big questions of life’. Hans must face the transition from child to adult. His father must face whether his marriage can be mended. We, the readers, must face whether we want to be one of a pack of cards or the joker looking in from the outside.
This book is one to be read when one wants to be baffled, delighted and challenged all at the same time. Be baffled in deciding what is real and what is imaginary. Be delighted by the mastery of Gaarder’s story telling. Be challenged to find the joker in you.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars good fun and very clever and though provoking, 4 Mar 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
Jostein Gaarder wrote Sophie's World. I think this book is better. It uses the same style of writing, but instead of putting across what other people thought (or close to what other people thought), it tells a story and asks questions. This is better because if people don't share the point of view of the person telling them what other people thought, then they will disagree. But here they are entitled to make their own opinions. It is also quite hard to put down.
The story is based, in lots of different ways, around a pack of cards. And the continual theme and message is the importance (or expendability) of the joker (/thinker, what is referred to as a philosopher in Sophie's world), the way that the world sees them as expendable but really it is they who appreciate the world the best. Here's a quote (and no prizes for guessing how I'd respond):
"But if the world is a magic trick, then there must be a great magician, too. I hope one day I'll be able to expose him or her, but it isn't easy to reveal a trick when the magician never shows up on stage."
The story is very clever, self-referential, uses nested stories so that you get slightly confused, then has the main character confused at the same thing, ... And in doing so, you get the feeling that Gaarder is himself the joker in several senses of the word.
One of the good things about Gaarder rather than many other philosophers, is that he is genuinely humble about it. He tends to have Socrates' attitude of "The only thing I know is that I know nothing" rather than the arrogance as to the implications of their philosophy held by so many others. His characters have a kind of innocent joy in appreciating the world around them - quite probably why he uses children so much.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Most definitely my favourite book of all time..., 31 July 2004
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
After reading the first few pages of this novel I was hooked.
The one thing that makes Jostein Gaarder stand out from other authors is the way that he integrates thought-provoking ideas, historical facts and a spellbinding storyline so seamlessly.
Whilst reading the book, and ever since I finished it, I have not stopped thinking about the ideas raised in this book. The magical settings of this story also help to create a truly memorable read.
I reccomend this book to anyone as I believe that the fundamental ideas and easily-accessible storyline would appeal to any human being.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic, captivating read, 2 Jun 2005
By A Customer
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
I first read The Solitaire Mystery about five years ago, and until recently, I had forgotten about it.A few months ago I suddenly had the urge to read the book again only to discover i had lost it! So i bought it from amazon and realised that buying it and reading it again was well worth it and I could read this book over and over again. I am just as captivated now as I was the first time I read this book with Gaarder's excellent taste for adventure, myth and fairytale, it works hard on your imagination whilst stimulating your mind. It gets you thinking about philosophy and life and I would recommend this book to anyone with a good imagination and a love for adventure. It has briliant twists in the tale and relates back to 20th century war times when life was hard, especially for an 'illegitimate child'...
It's amazing how a writer can create a link between a dwarf, a sticky bun, a magnifiying glass, a german soldier and a pack of playing cards, but Gaarder has done just that- with creative ingenuity, and I assure you that you will not be able to put this book down!!!!!
I'm currently reading Sophie's world which is also a fantastic book by Gaarder!
A damn good read!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent, 3 Feb 2002
By A Customer
An excellent story. Brilliant for children over 12 yrs of age and very insightful for beginners in philosophy making it more real for them. It may not appeal to those who have studied philosophy previously as it may appear as over simplistic. However I couldnt put the book down once I started to read it. The story made me use my imagination and took me into another magical and adventurous world full of curiosity and illusion. I can only remember enjoying a book as much as this with my imagination on full strength as the book by: C.S Lewis in the Lion ,The Witch and the Wardrobe. However If I was to read that again as an adult I am not sure whether it would stir up the same sense of adventure. Yet this book I know would appeal to the adults. Read it and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. A good read specially for those who may like to escape once in a while from the mundane and repetitiveness of everyday life.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 3 Nov 2001
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
It took me two yeas to read Sophies World, but only two days for the Solitaire Mystery. It grips you from the very start wtih twists and turns only Jostein Gaardner can describe. Have me hope to continue reading his other books.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is fantastic, 26 May 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
I first read this book about a year ago and now I just can't stop reading it. The author has used a style which links the simpleness of a fairytale with the complicated ideas of philosphy. Everything in this book appeals to me, there is not one part which I didn't enjoy. Perhaps the best part of the book is the fact that it is written from the point of a young boy, the author has really captured the innocence of youth in the character of Hans Thomas.
The solitaire mystery has opened up the world of philosphy to me and my friends -it's a purely magic book
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is totally amazing and thought provoking, 24 Jun 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
After not completing Sophie's World, which my mother had got from a teacher at the school where she'd worked for free, I was given this book as a Christmas present having already been enchanted by the Christmas Mystery, which was a wonderful story. I had my apprehensions and it took me about a week before I got into the story but once Hans had discovered the Sticky Bun Book, i was absolutely hooked!
But why would whoever is reading this review want to read this book? For one thing, it makes you think, like properly about life and this is something not enough people do. The whole joker thing is so tru in our lives today, that people really do live their lives like it's nothing special and fall into different suits, without even realising it! Gaarder is such a wonderful story teller, and this book is not just a bout philosophy, but more about realising that there's more to life than fitting into a particular slot and not trying to see past it. This book changed my whole outlook and am now a self-confessed Joker because only a joker sees through the delusion.....
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly wonderful book, 12 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
I found this book to be a wonderful journey through a Uniquely curious, though strangely familiar world where unusual coincidences occur and destiny is never far away. It is filled with philosophical thoughts regarding the nature of existence and consciousness, and is always seeking to explain these thoughts in wonderfully simple ways, rendering them both accessible and thought provoking. However, the reason I love this book so much is that it filled me from head to toe with feelings of joy, optimism and warmth. I wouldn't dare ask for more.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timely reminder of the uniqueness of man, 9 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Solitaire Mystery (Paperback)
The SM contains an excellent blend of fairy tale, philosophical questioning and storytelling. How many joker's are there left in the world. What I like most is the way the author reminds us of how special we and the world are - this is something we often forget and perhaps never regain after the blissful wonderance of childhood is lost.
Unlke Sophies World, the ideas in this book are illustrated so that even the uneducated (like me) can empathise and understand what the message is.
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The Solitaire Mystery
The Solitaire Mystery by Jostein Gaarder (Paperback - 21 Oct 2004)
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