Rating: 3 stars
Category: Fantasy, Inspirational
Synopsis: Santiago the shepherd boy has a recurring dream about a treasure awaiting him at the Pyramids of Egypt. Leaving his flock and the life he knows behind, he sets out on an adventure to seek out this mysterious treasure. However, the people he meets along the way will teach him lessons far more valuable than any wealth or riches. The Alchemist is an inspirational tale about following your dreams.
Often I will skip through author introductions, but I am so glad that I read Paulo Coelho’s introduction to The Alchemist. It was amazing to hear how the book has journeyed from selling only one copy in its first month to becoming the most translated book in the world! Such a story of perseverance enhances the message of optimism and following your dreams. In the introduction, it is clear that Coelho has a very special way of viewing the world and I knew that I was going to be inspired.
Even if my neighbour doesn’t understand my religion or understand my politics, he can understand my story. If he can understand my story, then he’s never too far from me.
Everyone will find an inspirational message in The Alchemist that speaks to them on some level. For me, this was the fable told by the alchemist about a boy who goes on a pilgrimage to visit a wealthy man who knows the secret of happiness. When he arrives, he is given a spoon with three drops of oil and tells him to walk around the palace grounds. However, the boy is so intent on not spilling the oil that he does not enjoy the magnificent opulence and views of the palace.
The secret of happiness is to see all the marvels of the world, and never to forget the drops of oil on the spoon.
However, as the book progressed I started to find the philosophical messages a little heavy-handed. Though beautifully written and poignant, they began to interfere with the flow of the story for me. There are certainly elements of a self-help book in The Alchemist so I would suggest reading it if you are specifically looking to be inspired, rather than simply getting lost in a story for fiction’s sake.
I expected The Alchemist to be a bit obscure and an intellectually challenging read. In fact, I found reading it a relaxing experience. Although it often waxes philosophical, the story is easy to follow and absorb. It gave me a warm, comforting feeling, so perhaps would be a wonderful read when in need of a bit of a pick-me-up. I particularly liked the ending, which was unexpected yet satisfyingly complete.
The variety of people Santiago meets on his quest makes the novel feel almost like a collection of stories coming together to form the whole. Nevertheless, it is definitely a plot-centric book, with the characters existing mainly to further the plot and Coelho’s wider message. There is a deep sadness in how Santiago meets so many people who have settled in unfulfilled lives and given up on their dreams.
The Alchemist is a beautifully written story that has a timeless, mythical quality. It is easy to see how it has captivated people around the world; the book would be a perfect companion for anyone looking to change their outlook on life and reach for their dreams.
You will never be able to escape from your heart. So it is better to listen to what it has to say.
Read if: you would like to be inspired to follow your dreams by an adventure story unlike any other.
Cover image courtesy of Goodreads.
Have you read The Alchemist or any other books by Paulo Coelho? What did you think? Please do let me know in the comments – I would love to hear from you!