by Paulo Coelho
The blurb on the back of this edition claims that The Alchemist is one of those books that has changed the lives of people who have read it. A proud claim indeed, but is it justified?
Maybe, but to be honest, I am still the same person I was before reading it!
The plot and story are both very simple.
The story follows a young Andalusian shepherd as he seeks to fulfil his destiny and realise his dreams. After a meeting with a gypsy and a mysterious fellow traveller, the shepherd boy gives up everything and heads across the Mediterranean to begin his journey.
He meets several people on his journey, all of whom bring him a little closer to his final destination, including the Alchemist himself. Are the events and the people he meets random, or is there some mysterious force leading him to fulfil his destiny? Whether you believe in the idea of a universal force guiding our lives, or that we are the sole arbiters of our own destiny, The Alchemist raises some interesting points and questions.
There is very little in the way of physical descriptions of either the characters or their surroundings. In many ways it reminded me of Bible stories I read as a child. The main driving force is the message. It is also unclear exactly when the book is set, but in some ways this is an advantage making it almost timeless.
The Alchemist is a quick and easy read that may well give you something to think about. Whilst I question the life changing claims of the publishers, it is certainly an intriguing book that benefits from its simplicity and directness.