I bought this book while in Amsterdam for a couple of reasons: The title first caught my attention, and the friend I was with said he'd read it and thought it was... ok. But mostly because of the title.
Since buying it I've read a lot of reviews that say it's... ok. Which is why it sat on my TBR for so long.
Now that I've read it, I understand why a lot of people might think it's just ok. Reading it, I'm left with comparisons that include fairy tales and Pilgrim's Progress; allegory plays a big part in this tale, although the message isn't all that hidden. And the author doesn't even try to hide his, or his characters', faiths or spirituality; it's not preachy, but God and Allah are at the root of the plot.
Still, it's beautifully written, and well translated. The allegorical nature of the story and the third person POV kept me from really being invested in what happened to anyone, but I did appreciate the truly omnipotent and omnipresent role the author gave to God. He never tried to restrict the deity's role to just a traditional Christian or a traditional Islamic one; when he claims God is everywhere, he doesn't go about contradicting himself. My appreciation for this refreshing lack of hypocrisy went a long way to overcoming my ambivalence about the fate of the characters, and elevated my appreciation of the book to a notch above 'ok'.
If you prefer your spiritualism to be deity free, you're not going to like this book. If that's less important to you and you're intrigued by the question of "why are we here?", this might be worth a look.
Book themes for International Human Rights Day: Read a book originally written in another language (i.e., not in English and not in your mother tongue),
Maria, a beautiful Brazilian girl went to Europe to work as an exotic dancer, but ended being a prostitute. An expensive one, "working" in a luxurious bar in Geneva. Maria's goal is to earn enough money to buy a farm in Brazil for her and her parents and leave Swizerland in a year. "Eleven minutes" is her story.
But what is her story?
The men she had met since she arrived in Geneva always did everything they could to appear confident, as if they were in perfect control of the world and of their own lives; Maria, however, could see in their eyes that they were afraid of their wife, the feeling of panic that they might not be able to get an erection, that they might not seem manly enough even to the ordinary prostitute whom they were paying for her services. If they went to a shop and didn’t like the shoes they had bought, they would be quite prepared to go back, receipt in hand, and demand a refund. And yet, even though they were paying for some female company, if they didn’t manage to get an erection, they would be too ashamed ever to go back to the same club again because they would assume that all the other women there would know.
“Everything tells me that I am about to make a wrong decision, but making mistakes is just part of life. What does the world want of me? Does it want me to take no risks, to go back to where I came from because I didn't have the courage to say "yes" to life?”
“At every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss.”
“It is not time that changes man nor knowledge the only thing that can change someone's mind is love.”
“Love is not to be found in someone else but in ourselves; we simply awaken it. But in order to do that, we need the other person.”
“Sometimes, you get no second chance and that its best to accept the gifts the world offers you.”
“When we meet someone and fall in love, we have a sense that the whole universe is on our side. And yet if something goes wrong, there is nothing left!”
“I am two women: one wants to have all the joy, passion & adventure that life can give me. The other wants to be a slave to routine, to family life, to the things that can be planned and achieved. I'm a housewife & a prostitute, both of us living in the same body & doing battle with each other. The meeting of these two women is a game with serious risks. A divine dance. When we meet, we are two divine energies, two universes colliding. If the meeting is not carried out with due reverence, one universe destroys the other.”
“A writer once said that it is not time that changes man, nor knowledge; the only thing that can change someone's mind is love. What nonsense! The person who wrote that clearly knew only one side of the coin.”
“In love, no one can harm anyone else; we are each responsible for our own feelings and cannot blame someone else for what we feel.”
In comparison to my experiences with his other pieces. I can confidently say that this Paulo Cohelo work tests the reader in a unique and dangerous way.
Each of his novels teach valuable lessons for adults through the interesting happenings of his protagonists. This story does the same. However the lesson taught borders on relationship counseling and sexual education. It was just as compelling and effective as it was uncomfortable. Uncomfortable in the sense that the information being learned as one reads each chapter is not theirs to have. He accomplishes this through the less than innovative approach of journal or diary entries, but envertheless, it is striking how moving it is to read the sexual and romantic discoveries of a conventional young lady.
A book that is difficult to put down. A must-read for many, but especially those who have not yet discoveredy what makes them tick, oo and ahhh. Again, an inspiration!
Once upon a time, there was a bird. He was adorned with two perfect wings and with glossy, colorful, marvelous feathers. In short, he was a creature made to fly about freely in the sky, bringing joy to everyone who saw him.
One day, a woman saw this bird and fell in love with him. She watched his flight, her mouth wide in amazement, her heart pounding, her eyes shining with excitement. She invited the bird to fly with her, and the two traveled across the sky in perfect harmony. She admired and venerated and celebrated that bird.
But then she thought: He might want to visit far-off mountains! And she was afraid, afraid that she would never feel the same way about any other bird. And she felt envy, envy for the bird's ability to fly.
And she felt alone.
And she thought: "I'm going to set a trap. The next time the bird appears, he will never leave again."
The bird who was also in love, returned the following day, fell into the trap and was put in a cage.
She looked at the bird everyday. There he was, the object of her passion, and she showed him to her friends, who said: "Now you have everything you could possibly want." However, a strange transformation began to take place: now that she had the bird and no longer needed to woo him, she began to lose interest. The bird, unable to fly and express the true meaning of his life, began to waste away and his feathers to lose their gloss; he grew ugly; and the woman no longer paid him any attention, except by feeding him and cleaning out his cage.
One day, the bird died. The woman felt terribly sad and spent all her time thinking about him But she did not remember the cage, she thought only of the day when she had seen him for the first time, flying contentedly amongst the clouds.
If she had looked more deeply into herself, she would have realized that what had thrilled her about the bird was his freedom, the energy of his wings in motion, not his physical body.
Without the bird, her life too lost all meaning, and Death came knocking at her door. "Why have you come?" she asked Death. "So that you can fly once more with him across the sky," Death replied. "If you had allowed him to come and go, you would have loved and admired him even more; alas, you now need me in order to find him again."
So now I think that passage from the book already ate up my review so I'll just add some extra things.
First: As expected from Paulo Coelho this is another philosophical somewhat self-help, inspirational novel. This book was actually dedicated to a fan named Maurice Gravelines and Coelho met this guy unintentionally when he visited the Grotto in Lourdes. When they met the guy was like "You know, you look just like Paulo Coelho." And then Coelho said that yeah it was really him. And then the guy embraced him and he said to Coelho that, "They(Coelho's books) make me dream." I think that pretty sum up what kind of books Coelho's are.
Second: This book actually talks a lot about sex so I really recommend this book to adult readers, 18 years old and above. The novel has some masturbation scenes, BDSM, a blowjob scene etc. It just talks a lot about orgasm and in the other hand it also talks about the sacredness of sex and some history of prostitution blah blah blah. So really, adult readers or if you're sensitive about sex or anything about it maybe this book is not for you.
Third: My only complain about this book is that...there's actually a Filipino character in this book and she's a prostitute in the book and she's Maria's friend. My only problem about her is her name which is Nyah. I just really find her name weird and not very quote and quote Filipino. Maybe the author did not have time to research on it but the common names of Filipinos are similar to Spanish names and American names so I just really find it odd that her name's Nyah since it doesn't sound like a Filipino name. Maybe he could just name that character Juana or Ana or Susan but to name her Nyah, it was just odd. *shoulder shrug*
Some of my friends were raving about Coelho's "The Alchemist"; however, my first encounter with his writing is this book. I'm a little bit disappointed, though, because I expected more.