Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

Rating: 5/10

Published: 1993
Number of pages: 177
ISBN: 0061122416

Started: 19 February 2007
Finished: 20 February 2007

Summary (taken from blurb):
Paulo Coelho's enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusion shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.

This book just didn't grab me. I didn't realise until too late that it was going to be a new age fable. If I'd known beforehand, maybe I wouldn't have had such high expectations. I thought the ending was hugely disappointing because it was so very, very predictable. I was really hoping the treasure wouldn't be something as mundane and obvious as it turned out to be. And it didn't really seem to me a very appropriate treasure when you take into consideration the main character.

Maybe if I'd read this book 5-10 years ago, I would have enjoyed it more, but now it just seems like another new age book that's a bit past its use-by date. This is slightly odd because, for quite a few years, I was very much into all that new age stuff. Maybe it's because I've moved on from it that I wasn't able to enjoy this book. I can understand why it was a bestseller, because I imagine for people trying to follow their dreams, they can get something out of it. I'm not, so I didn't.

I didn't think it was spectacularly written either, which is something I really look for in a book. I hate to say it, but I kind of regret spending the money on it. At least I got it in a 3 for 2 deal, so I'll just pretend this was the freebie.

In short, if you're not into all that new age 'listen to your heart' stuff, then this book isn't for you. But if you are, and you need some inspiration when trying to follow your dreams, then give it a go, by all means. Don't let me put you off!

1 comment:

Jack said...

You should read the The Little Prince, if you haven't already. It's a much better "philosophical" fable, without all the new age self-help stuff.