As morbid and depressing as the title seems, this Coelho book takes the usual turn for understanding of the universe and an inspiration for readers to strive not to settle into the kind of routine they don’t wish to be in. Coelho’s books have been NY Times Best Sellers and translated into dozens of languages, he’s one of the top selling modern authors. It just takes one book to understand why, and this book certainly fits into that category.
Veronica is a young woman with a happy life. She has loving parents and a nice job. She lives in Ljubljana, the capital city of the newly formed country of Slovenia (after the Yugoslavian civil war). With as many positives points in her life, Veronica found nearly as much sadness. She believed the routine of her life was inconsequential and secretly vowed to kill herself to leave the world behind. After feigning sleeplessness, she collected strong sleeping pills and went about the deed. She slowly fell into a drowsy state, but the peaceful death was not coming, a burning throughout her body led her into a coma and she woke in the infamous Villette hospital for the mentally insane. Upon waking, the doctor told the girl she would survive, but her heart had taken the toll from the suicide attempt. The state her heart was in, she could expect a week of life before she succumbed to the death she had wished for.
Not to give too much away, Veronica reluctantly made friends, and rediscovered her passion for the piano. In fact, her piano playing was said to lift many spirits in the gloomy hospital. With a week left to live, what would you do? Veronica searched her soul and others joined. Her weak heart pushed the limits and she found herself having heart-attacks through the week.
In a previous interview, Coelho explained his need to write this book. He had been put into a mental asylum himself as a young man. Coelho even modeled a character in the book after himself. His parents expected him to become an engineer, but his thirst for writing could not allow him to complete the studies the family expected of him. He made his way out and the rest is history.
Whether you’re feeling ‘in a rut’ or just enjoy Coelho’s books, this is a good read. Coelho never lets you down. Enjoy.
Coelho’s writings have always had a re-energizing, cleansing, transportational influence on me. I found a sort of enlightenment upon reading my first book by him, The Alchemist, and again with The Valkyries. I find many of his writings to have spiritual connotations, which don’t focus on one religion, but a collective spiritual intent, which may explain why his books are some of the most translated throughout the world.
In The Zahir, Coelho seems to loosely base the narrator on himself, even bringing up books he has written in real-life through out the book. It gave his writing a quality of realism that makes the reader believe more in the mysticism and messages in his writing. The book began as the narrator gave a brief background of his life and then explained that his wife had disappeared. Police in Paris questioned him but ruled him out as a suspect. After a quick assessment, the narrator also believed she could not have been kidnapped, she took her passport. His wife had left him. Suspicions directed the husbands thoughts to the young man his wife had brought from Kazakhstan as a translator. Surely this man seduced his wife and they ran away together.
After writing a book about his love for his ex-wife, he felt the creative release would help him through the hard time, he was approached by the young man whom he believed had taken his wife from him, along with a message. The man, Mikhail, was a sort of mystic, able to receive messages and premonitions in a way. He was on a mission to spread love through the world. The narrator realized the man had not taken his wife, and believed Mikhail was the only chance on finding her and rekindling their love. Many personal struggles followed and the narrator realized he had driven his wife away. He had gotten caught up in living day-to-day, and didn’t value her as he should have. He learned to speak of his personal history in a way of releasing his past in order to be born anew. At times he struggled, but stayed on the path and finally realized his wife leaving was a sign, as a reflection that he has lost himself. In valuing himself, he opened the opportunity to earn the love of his wife again.
This book had many journeys, many messages, much to do with love and self-worth. In a way, Coelho writes self-help books, through narration and stories. He uses many cultural stories, legends and traditions to build the book and messages. His books prove he is a wise and talented writer.