Author: Paulo Coelho
Total pages: 287
Total approximate words: 77000
Back in 2015, when I read the book for the first time, the story felt a little less comprehending. I was in my mid-twenties, still single, madly in love with this guy I just met. I just couldn’t understand why would someone commit infidelity after being married to the love of their life! Six years later, when I read it again, I am a married woman myself. My perspective has changed significantly, if not substantially. May be now I do understand the monotony that long term relationships bring, but again, that was why I got married at the first place. Anything stable is monotonous, safe is boring, and I love boring. And so, I love being married. The book is good for reflection, if you are considering to get married while thinking that every day in the marriage would be a different, exciting day. Paulo Coelho breaks the myth in this book. However, it is just a mere fiction. And anything is possible in the world of imagination!
Linda, the protagonist lives in Geneva, with her two beautiful children and a loving husband. They both are very successful in their respective profession. Despite having the perfect family life, she is not very happy, and in fact is often under depression. Until, one day her work as a journalist with a major newspaper agency gets her an interview with Jacob, a politician, and her ex-boyfriend from school. Old sparks come back between them, and after that day they start having a secret affair. Linda is happy that her life finally is adventurous and that she doesn’t feel any guilty cheating on her husband for ten years. However, eventually she realises that she was falling for Jacob, who was also married to a woman who controlled every aspect of his life.
When Linda confesses her feelings to Jacob, he simply tells her that she should see a marriage counsellor. This upsets her and she sets out to take revenge. But instead of targeting Jacob, she targets his over controlling wife, whom Linda despised. She buys thirty grams of cocaine and plans to plant it on Jacob’s wife, but at the last minute she changes her mind. Surprisingly Jacob sends a message to Linda saying that he wants to see her again. Lina immediately agrees and they start seeing each other secretly again. Despite assuming that her little affair with Jacob, would solve her problem of depression, she realised it more profoundly that she was just another object of lust for him, and that he had been in such affairs many times. With a revolting heart she decides to talk to her husband about her depression (not about the affair, not yet at least). The husband calmly listens to her and suggests taking medications, and have some family time. The solution doesn’t really help Linda.
On one of the following evenings, the couple is invited for a gala party where Jacob and his wife were also invited. After the party, Jacob’s wife insists that the four have dinner together. During the dinner, she starts a discussion about jealousy and extra marital affair in married couples. The discussion gets heated, and Linda and her husband decide to take their leave. Linda feels helpless and guilty for the next couple of days thinking that her husband might have figured something about her affair with Jacob from the dinner that night. Her husband’s silence makes it harder for her. Eventually she decided to tell her husband everything. And when she prepares the evening with some wine and cheese, her husband does all the talking instead of her. Without even knowing the whole truth, he admits that its his fault that he is unable to spend time with his wife, and that he loves her with all his life and he would do everything to keep her in his life. Listening to her husband, Linda gets emotional. She decides to break up with Jacob once and for all. She however doesn’t tell her husband about the affair anymore. In a few days Linda visits Jacob in his office and they have sex, but this time it was how she wanted and not him. At the end she tells him that they wont see each other anymore, and that her husband still loves her and she was worth something to him. A perplexed Jacob pretends to be busy as she walks out of his office with her head held high. The story ends with Linda doing a para gliding against her reservations about the same. She is enthralled by the experience and feels alive like she never felt before. Linda and her family enjoys the season’s first snow together in a few days.
The story has a very European vibe. The characters have a very different mindset compared to if it was written with Asian characters in mind. The culture difference is apt and is loud and clear. The protagonist problem of having a monotonous despite a financially and socially secure life with the assumption that somehow a therapist will help less than an extra marital affair is appalling. It is kind of an unrelatable plot for many people living on the other side of the world (but again many might relate). The story has intimate scenes according to the plot requirement, but the description of those scenes in no way sound like cheap porn, which is quite a pleasure to read.
The ‘cheating scenes’ are described in technical details, which is interesting and sensible, considering the title of the book. Each important scene in the story has the right amount of drama, instead of too much. The break up shown at the end between the two main characters of the story are just so adult like. No cursing, jealousy, or violence, considering the story was majorly on the pursuit of lust.
I would definitely read the book again. Paulo Coelho has a mastery over his creations and reading this book simply justifies that. I would rate this book a 7.5/10
Ease of reading: 9/10
Character/ Plot building: 7/10
World Building: 7/10
I hope you enjoy the book as much as I did, and more.
This review is based on my personal reading of the book and understanding it with my own limited experiences.