I started this book not having any preconceived notions of what it was or what it was about except that the cover said it was an international bestseller.
I can see why it was an international bestseller. While the story is a simple story (which I had heard before, slightly altered–I don’t know which was the original) the tone is one of solid, confident, wisdom. Coelho writes like a man who knows the secrets of the world, and will tell them to you one by one, if you are only wise enough to listen. Some people hunger for that kind of unyielding faith.
When I first started reading it, I appreciated the spiritual feel-goodery of it. I don’t mind a little spirituality now and again. As a skeptic and a critical cynic, it didn’t take long before I saw enough flaws in the message of the book to get disgruntled. There’d be a “that is the way of the world, that is the way the world is” and I’d be like “now just a doggone minute, there partner, I can think of three examples in which that is clearly untrue.” It started to irritate me. I realized if I wanted to continue, I’d have to ignore the questionable spiritual message and just see it as a fantasy story based on someone else’s religious beliefs.
I didn’t mind the style. I don’t mind folklore and fairy tales now and again, and that’s basically what this book is. The philosophy is flawed, but as folklore, it’s not bad.
I recommend this book for new age seeker types, and for people who like old stories and folklore set in the Mediterranean.