WORDS OF PRAISE FOR THE AUTHOR
Brazilian author Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theater director and actor, lyricist and journalist. In 1986, Paulo Coelho went on the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostela, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage. In the following year, Coelho published The Alchemist. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the bestselling Brazilian books of all time. Paulo Coelho is a firm believer of Internet as a new media and is the first bestselling author to actively support free online distribution of his work.
“Whenever you have to find about something, Plunge right in!”
The above line sums up all this book is about. The book tells us the story of a young girl, Brida, who dives into sorcery and experiments with different magical traditions. She meets a wise man who dwells in a forest, who teaches her about overcoming her fears and trusting in the goodness of the world; and a woman who teaches her how to dance to the music of the world, and how to pray to the moon. As she seeks her destiny, she struggles to find a balance between her relationships and her desire to become a witch.
The book is about exploring life, learning to connect with your truest self, finding one’s soulmate in this life and feeling complete. It’s not the story in itself as much as its elements – the progression of the human soul, with all its elements (feelings, memories, experiences, people around us, thoughts, actions, choices) through time, is portrayed like a charcoal sketch – black and white, stark, with elements of the distinct unknown in various shades. The rituals and the steps culminating in a merry Sabbath party, the Tradition of the Sun and the Tradition of the Moon, the four forms of expression of the self, and the ultimate epicenter of the book – The Gift.
The main character of this story – Brida – has been portrayed beautifully. Her internal conflicts, external temptations, fears, and joy are so beautifully penned that everyone can easily connect with the character. The two main male leads have been carefully outlined as well. It’s easy for writers to plunge into personal bias for/against any character due to their own personality traits. But Coelho stayed true to the story. There are not too many subplots but the ones which present are short and will bring you back to the story very quickly.
The conflict within all of us to be with someone whom we have known since long, or to be with someone whom we have known for a lesser time but who touches our heart more, or to just leave everything and submit ourselves to a lone path with no partner is integral to this story.
The book excels in the care with which the intimate and ritualistic scenes are described. Not for once do you feel that the author is being too descriptive on the wrong aspects of the situation. Also, the classic explanation of few realities is also touching, like the fact that even the teachers are human beings and sometimes blame themselves for little wrongs they think they have done!
On the other hand, the writing style is smooth, but bland and not as engrossing as it always is, in almost all Paulo Coelho books. There is a slight repetition about mysticism and other aspects of the ‘unknown’ in all the books of Paulo Coelho. The fact that a story based on witchcraft, self-discovery and soulmates depends so heavily on God and Religion somehow seems forced.
The book is a cocktail of multiple ingredients like witchcraft, religion, spirituality, magic, search for self, incarnation, soulmates, etc. This book has a different experience on offer for everyone – a story for the readers, inspiration for the believers and introspection for the thinkers. No regrets can come from reading this book.
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