Monday, March 12, 2007

"Through a Glass, Darkly" by Jostein Gaarder

The Blurb

The questioning of universal ideas that so many readers loved in Sophie's World continues in this beautiful, moving and wonderfully original novel.

As Cecilia lies ill in bed, and her family prepare for Christmas knowing she will not recover, an angel steps through her window. But Ariel is no ordinary angel - at least, he does not conform to conventional ideas of what an angel looks like and says. He likes nothing better than to sit around and chat about life, death and the universe. Through a Glass, Darkly is a springboard for a spirited and thoroughly engaging series of conversations between Cecilia and her angel. As the weeks pass and winter turns to spring, subtle changes take place in the relationship between Cecilia and her family, as she swings from feelings of anger and denial, hope and despair, to a calm acceptance of her lot. She is preparing to leave ...

A Quote
She had been given a bell for the bedside table. She rang it when she wanted to go to the loo or needed something. Usually it was Lars who answered it first. Sometimes Cecilia had rung the bell just so he could tell her what they had been baking or decorating.

Father had promised to carry Cecilia downstairs to the living room when it was time to open the presents. She wanted new skis. The old ones barely reached up to her chin. Mother had suggested that she should wait until she was well again, but Cecilia had protested. She wanted skis for Christmas, and that was that!

'You may not be able to go skiing this winter, Cecilia.'

She had thrown a vase of flowers on to the floor.

'Of course I can't go skiing if I haven't any skis.'

Mother had just brought a dustpan and brush without saying a word. That was almost the worst thing about it. As she swept up the flowers and the fragments of glass she said, 'I thought you'd prefer something exciting that you could have with you while you're in bed.'

There was suddenly a tight feeling in her head. 'Have with me while I'm in bed!' So then she had pushed a plate and a glass of juice on to the floor as well. Mother didn't get cross then, either. She had merely swept and brushed, brushed and swept.
Sorry, I guess that's a bit sentimental. But it's so much harder to write about dying than it is to write about sex.

All of Gaarder's books are worth the read - I'd particularly also recommend Vita Brevis, in which (IMO) Gaarder (through Flora Aemilia) demonstrates a better Christian understanding of love and relationships than Augustine apparently had ....