Back when I was all of about 17 years old, I read the fantastic novel-come-philosophy-primer, Sophie’s World, which I loved both for its accessible introduction to so many key ideas and also for its great storytelling. Not long afterwards I picked up this other novel by Jostein Gaarder, The Christmas Mystery, in a charity shop and it’s been sat on my bookshelves ever since. However, after finishing my last book a few days before Christmas, I thought what better book to read at this time than this?

The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder

Jostein Gaarder uses the story-within-a-story device to intertwine two narratives: one of Joachim, a Norwegian boy who finds a magic advent calendar, and one of Elisabet, a Norwegian girl who traveled gradually across land and also back through time to witness the birth of Christ.

There are twenty-four chapters: one for each day of advent. In each chapter, as the boy opens the next door of the advent calendar, a carefully folded piece of paper falls out, containing the next installment of Elisabet’s journey. This way, the different plot lines unfold steadily and eventually get woven together.

…for there’s no sense in believing what’s right unless it leads to helping people in distress…

I think that The Christmas Mystery is really aimed at teenagers / young adults, however I certainly enjoyed reading it, and it has made me also want to read The Solitaire Mystery at some point (which we also have sat on our bookshelves).

If you liked this, you might also enjoy: The Solitaire Mystery or Sophie’s World, both also by Jostein Gaarder.