Brazilian author Paulo Coelho has developed a huge following since his novel, The Alchemist, became an international bestseller. A couple of years ago, I was invited to review Manuscript Found in Accra — a contemplative series of stories in which the citizens of Jerusalem in 1099 explore a series of questions relating to love, jealousy and fear and in the process uncover wisdom and lessons for life. It was my first experience of Coelho and gave me an insight into what makes his work so appealing to many people.
He is a beautiful writer who presents thoughtful and wise insights about life and living that are a form of consolation for the soul.
Coelho’s latest novel, Adultery, is a parable where plot — and to some extent character — take second place to the moral of the tale. It’s the story of a bored and slightly depressed journalist, Linda, with a perfect husband and children who lives a privileged life in Switzerland yet is bored and dissatisfied so that when she comes across a former boyfriend she is easily tempted and embarks on an affair. Linda is not a particularly sympathetic character yet she has characteristics that many readers will recognise either in themselves or in others. She seeks meaning by questioning her own thinking, by reading, by talking to friends. She even consults a ‘shaman’ or wise man yet, ironically, it is her husband who ultimately helps her to allow herself to truly lose control and thereby discover emotional healing.
Adultery by Paulo Coelho is published by Random House. [Disclosure: An Advance Reader’s Copy (ARC) was made available via Netgalley for the purpose of this review.]