Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Book Review: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho - Fiction

The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho is a captivating novel set in a past era with truly applicable lessons for current day living.

The story is told from the perspective of a shepherd boy. He is restless and wants to do more than shepherding sheep; he wants to explore the world and go beyond his limited horizon of the fields and the sheep. He wishes to find the appropriate woman to marry and change his lifestyle.

In this process of soul-searching, he encounters some wise folk who give him lessons on life and admonish him on the existence of omens—the good ones and the bad ones. These omens are there around him and it is up to him to ensure that he interprets them appropriately. The boy, as the author refers to him, is on a quest to create his personal legend. Since he desires to travel he embarks on a journey of fulfilling his dream of witnessing the pyramids in Egypt.

Through this journey he loses his life’s savings, works hard to re-gain some of these savings; he meets interesting people—there are those who wish to make their dreams a reality while there are others who prefer to keep their dreams as part of their imagination. This boy, eventually ventures on his quest to realize his dream; he travels through the desert where he encounters an English man who is determined to find the alchemist. This man wants to unravel the code of the philosopher’s stone as well the elixir of life; he wanted to know how to turn lead into gold.

The boy comes upon a young woman who he believes is the woman he wanted to marry; it was instant love at first sight. But the boy needed to fulfill his dream before settling down to a life of marital bliss. He continues his venture towards Egypt. Through various encounters with different types of people and adventures in the desert he realizes his dream. Throughout he has learned many lessons and accepts the trials, tribulations and the many joys of self-actualization.

Paulo Coelho writes in an easy to read style incorporating many startling yet very common sense approaches to living one’s life. He elevates these life’s lessons in dramatic and fascinating episodes throughout the novel.

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