The Alchemist: A Book Review


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The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho I thought was a delightful read and am not surprised that it has a following and sold 150 million copies world wide.  . It combined myth, parable, magic, wisdom and dreams in one small package that was simply written and easy to read but philosophically as deep as you wanted to go.

In the prologue the alchemist finds a book about Narcissus that tells the tale as we know it but continued on to explain that the lake had cried so much on the death of Narcissus that it had turned the lake Narcissus used to admire himself in from fresh water to salt water. The Lake was asked if Narcissus was beautiful and after a short silence said in reply: “I weep for Narcissus but I never noticed that he was beautiful. I weep because, each time he knelt beside my banks, I could see, in the depths of his eyes, my own beauty reflected.”

Via this novel, In the shepherd boy’s life we see our own lives reflected.

We follow the life of a boy. On the first line we learn that his name is Santiago. Never again is the name used instead the narrator refers to him as the boy. This technique I feel further allows us to put our own lives in the story. The boy is a simple shepherd herder. He is a herder with education, choosing to herd as this is the only way he can travel. The boy has a dream and the rest of the tale is spent in search of this dream. He visits a gypsy who tells him that the treasure is to be found at the pyramids. He meets a king who advises him to sell his sheep to raise the funds to travel to Egypt.

His trip to the pyramids sees him meet an alchemist and he learns about personal legends, to follow omens (signs), and listen to his heart. He discovers love and the universal language. He learns of the treasure within.  I put this in the same plane as C.S.Lewis’s Til We Have Faces and is a book I can see myself rereading further down the track.

Would I recommend it? Stupid  question. It is clear that I would recommend this to all readers, children and adult alike, as the life lessons set out in here are ones that no matter your age they are worth reminding ourselves of.

“There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.”

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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8 Responses to The Alchemist: A Book Review

  1. I am one of the millions who read this and loved it for all the reasons you have so eloquently set forth here. Now I may have to get t off the shelf and reread it. Also going to have to check out that CS Lewis book you mention.
    Cool beans, Irene.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. calmkate says:

    or of not starting 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a great review of a classic book, Irene. This is one you don’t pass on because you have to keep it close.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Loved your review of this book! I have heard of it, but haven’t read it yet. So I’ll be correcting this soon…

    Liked by 1 person

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