Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Alchemist -

Paulo Coelho enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian 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 points 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 transformation power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
Goodreads description

Normally you get testimonies on back covers from other authors or press reviews, this is the first one I've come across with a quote by Madonna! This book is very different to the other books I have read on this magic realism challenge. It is a fable, a folktale and a fairytale. It is therefore quite a simple book, with strong messages - follow your destiny, worrying about what might happen stops you from acting and you will often find what you seek in your roots. All of which is good advice and clearly the book has had a profound impact on a lot of people (including Madonna).  And I respect that. 

But the book left me underwhelmed, even though I am a lover of fairytales and folktales. I could have done without the messages being so stressed e.g. Wherever your heart is, that is where you’ll find your treasure. And I wasn't even sure I agreed with all of the messages. Like fairytales there is not much in the way of character development. Yes Santiago finds his treasure and is learning throughout the story, but there is little in the way of conflict in this book. As a woman I'm not sure I agree with the message re women waiting patiently for their men, who are off pursuing their dreams.

That said I am going to give this book to a young relative of mine, because I think it will appeal to her. Some of my problems with the book are I think because I am of an age when I have already done my own thinking about the issues it raises. 

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