‘The Alchemist’ – Paulo Coelho
This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and inspiring wisdom, is about an Andalusian shepherd boy named Santiago who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. Along the way he meets a Gypsy woman, a man who calls himself king, and an alchemist, all of whom point Santiago in the direction of his quest. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. Lush, evocative, and deeply humane, the story of Santiago is an eternal testament to the transforming power of our dreams and the importance of listening to our hearts.
Similar to Johnson’s ‘The History of Rasselas’ [https://mrsbrownsbooks.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/the-pursuit-of-happiness/], this philosophical novel intends to encourage readers to evaluate their attitude towards life and their own ambitions, through the story of Santiago the shepherd. Whilst the messages throughout this novella are pretty clear, I personally don’t have much time for such teachings and found myself racing through to reach its conclusion.
So if this book does appeal to you, it definitely is one that should be read in several sittings to consider the messages that Coelho writes of. It is certainly not difficult to decipher; the time would be in relating it to your own life and experiences.
That being said, I was keen to know what fate had in store for Santiago, hence me reading it through to the very end, otherwise I am pretty sure I would have abandoned this one. So it might be that I find I think back on this book much later after finishing it and that ‘The Alchemist’ has taught me something on a subconscious level.
This novella will not take long to consume if you are curious to know what this book is actually about after just hearing others mention the title. However, if you aren’t into your philosophical, “life teaching” stories, then give this one a miss because there is not much essence to the plot beyond its morals.