This book captivated me immediately. The story starts with the protagonist, Veronika waking in the hospital, after she has recently attempted suicide with sleeping pills. She describes herself as a boring woman, who lives a life everyone thinks is perfect. “She had managed to appear utterly independent when she was, in fact, desperately in need of company. When she entered a room everyone would turn to look at her, but she almost always ended the night alone, in the convent, watching a TV that she hadn’t even bothered tohave properly tuned.” (67 Coelho) She sounded average, but the description of her subtle actions made me want to know more. I read on, almost frustrated at the protagonist, because I swore she had depth she refused to admit. When Veronika wakes in an asylum, she asks about her condition. The doctor informs her about irreversible damage on her heart from medication. Veronika is told she has about a week to live, and the book takes place over the course of this last week.
This books deals heavily with internal conflicts. The chapters are short, and a few of them seem private, almost voyeuristic. The story progresses as Veronika finds her passion for life. She starts speaking her mind more freely, and doing what she wants with no regrets. Expressing herself causes her to wonder about these other aspects of her self, and how long she’s been this way. Paulo Coelho captures the conflict of wanting to die, but not feeling quite ready, in a way that feels too real. I enjoyed this book, and it felt very appropriate for some of the life changes I’m seeing now.
There are other secondary characters in this book who also see some major changes. Mari a long term resident of Villete (the asylum) considers her reasons for being a resident. Veronika has an impact on every character she meets in the week. I anticipated the ending about half way through the story, but it was wrapped up so beautifully, it was still a gift. I’ve already read The Alchemist, and I have Brida to read next. Has anyone else enjoyed this title, or others from Coelho?
One word I learned while reading this title:
1.) Minstrels: “Like the ancient minstrels, he begant to write her poems, in the hope of one day marrying her.” (57 Coelho).
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines minstrel as “a musical entertainer in the middle ages.”.