Book Review 11 – The Alchemist

alchemistThe Alchemist

(Paulo Coelho)

Rating: 4 stars

This is the 3rd book in my reading challenge and the shortest one of the bunch. It was an impulsive buy since the bookstore had a general clearance and the majority of the shelf was heavily discounted. I expected to read it during my commute, but now I enjoyed it sitting on the terrace during the latest heat wave.

It is a very simplistic story and just the thing I needed to unwind. It reads almost like a fairy tale and that could not be by chance. Fairly tales are the ones that teach us the most about life in our childhood; about overcoming obstacles, of goodness and rewards for kind deeds, and also about monsters and danger lying outside our doors. This particular tale is far less exciting in this regard – no monsters here – yet still interesting enough to make a return to it worth vile. The magic is more subtle than anything else.

I liked the shepherd and his journey, and the people he meets prove to be interesting characters themselves. You won’t find a grand plot here, but the novel is riddled with symbolism, lessons and what not. They did not bother me as they did other reviewers at Goodreads who complain bitterly about the lessons being repeated time and time again. Perhaps being forewarned about the novel actually helps you to enjoy it more? Personally, I liked the writing style and was not bothered by the repetitions since they were always in context and integral to the story.

It is more or less an atmosphere piece – the underlying emotion the author establishes propels us forwards. It is true, however, that it is far from a masterpiece. There are more important and weightier books out there, with bigger messages and lessons to impart us. Just think about the old classics of the 19th century. The Alchemist is far, far from that and therefore can’t be judged by the same criteria. It is a fluffy fairy tale, not a brick like War and Peace. It is a positive piece and since we live in times when we need all the good feelings that we can get, I recommend it.

Therefore it gets 4 stars from me for being an easy read.


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