The Alchemist by Paul Coelho

“That’s what alchemists do. They show that, when we strive to become better than we are, everything around us becomes better, too.”

The Alchemist is a should-be-classic classic. I didn’t know about the admiration behind Coelho and his most famous work when I picked it up. It was just a small book I had heard of once or twice before that served me as a perfect beach read – this time last year, when I was able to spend my last spring break enjoying Miami.

Paulo Coelho’s enchanting novel has inspired a devoted following around the world. This story, dazzling in its powerful simplicity and soul-stirring 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 near 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 in his path. 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.

Coelho reportedly wrote the story in two weeks and may be held close to people who believe in the law of attraction. The idea that “when you really want something to happen, the whole universe will conspire so that your wish comes true” is riddled throughout the plot and, I think, was the main point Coelho wanted to get across to his readers.

It’s an adventure tale that flies right by you. Santiago’s trip is spurred by a dream and, while I can’t relate to setting out on a road trip across continents based on a dream, I have a soft spot for characters entirely different from myself. The religious undertones and vague love story didn’t impress me but Santiago’s internal journey was as intriguing as the countries and towns he traveled to.

The ending may make you want to scream with frustration but, with a little humor, it’s kind of a great allegory for most of our ambitions through life.


Quotes are from The Alchemist

Photo from Amazon

Synopsis from goodreads.com

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