Veronika Decides To Die Paperback – Apr 26 2001
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When Paulo Coelho (The Alchemist) was a young man, his parents had him committed to mental hospitals three times because he wanted to be an artist--an unacceptable profession in Brazil at the time. During his numerous forced incarcerations he vowed to write some day about his experiences and the injustices of involuntary commitment. In this fable-like novel, Coelho makes good on his promise, with the creation of a fictional character named Veronika who decides to kill herself when faced with all that is wrong with the world and how powerless she feels to change anything. Although she survives her initial suicide attempt, she is committed to a mental hospital where she begins to wrestle with the meaning of mental illness and whether forced drugging should be inflicted on patients who don't fit into the narrow definition of "normal." The strength and tragedy of Veronika's fictional story was instrumental in passing new government regulations in Brazil that have made it more difficult to have a person involuntarily committed. Like any great storyteller, Coelho has used the realm of fiction to magically infiltrate and alter the realm of reality. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
The bestselling Brazilian author of The Alchemist delicately etches this morose but ultimately uplifting story of the suicidal Veronika, who creeps along the boundary between life and death, sanity and madness, happiness and despair. Veronika, 24, works in a library in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and rents a room in a convent; she is an attractive woman with friends and family, but feelings of powerlessness and apathy tempt her to find "freedom" in an overdose of sleeping pills. When Veronika awakens in the purgatory of Villete, the country's famous lunatic asylum, she is told her suicide attempt weakened her heart and she has only days to live. At this point, Coelho takes a role in the novel; he describes the circumstances under which he discovered Veronika's story and then recounts his own youthful incarceration in a Brazilian sanatorium, consigned there by parents who couldn't understand his "unusual behavior." As quickly as he drops in, however, he drops out again, relying on interior monologues to set scenes. In a sedative-induced haze, Veronika finds companionship in white-haired Mari, who suffers from panic attacks, and Eduard, an ambassador's son who has been diagnosed as schizophrenic, and she begins to question the definition of insanity. It is her supposed death sentence from the devious Dr. Igor, who is trying to shock her back into reality, that allows Veronika to reacquire the will to live and love. Employing his trademark blend of religious and philosophical overtones, Coelho focuses on his central question: why do people go on when life seems unfair and fate indifferent? The simple, often banal prose contrasts Veronika's bleak inner landscape with the beautiful contours of Slovenia, gradually culminating in an upbeat ending with the message that each day of life is a miracle. Coelho's latest will appeal to readers who enjoy animated homilies about the worth of human existence.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The intended message is inspiring and beautiful .. one must discover the true value of life, the richness with with it can be lived, the meaning of living it. We should not be apathetic and resigned to the dull norms, instead we should savor every mad moment, every whim, every impulse we feel...so long as we do not cause destruction to those around us....sing in the rain, climb a mountain, paint, dance, laugh with the joy of life and living, unleash the individual within you and cry, scream, go out and follow your dream. It is an inspiring approach to our existence and the book answers to a modern-day malaise inflicting thousands of people world wide: boredom/apathy/depression.Read more ›
But understanding Mr. Coelho requires understanding the rest of the story.
There is a simple beauty to Mr. Coelho's style, in evidence as he describes Veronika's ascent from the depths of her private purgatory to her return to her place among the living. This evolution in Veronika is the crux of the book and it illustrates Mr. Coelho's strengths and weaknesses as a storyteller: his ideas are fresh and original and his sense of plot of solid. But his techniques as a writer, his dialogues, his pacing, are weak.
To be sure, Mr. Coelho's ideas are the cornerstones of his legion fan base. The ideas are not only visible in this book when it comes to Veronika's rebirth but also in interesting but minor parts of the story. One of my favorites was when Mari -- an antagonist to Veronika, a lawyer, and a fellow patient at the Villete hospital where most of the story takes place -- muses about how she would defend Adam in the eyes of God for the role he played in the Fall of Man. I also enjoyed the metaphor from Zedka -- another patient -- about the king and queen who rules a kingdom of mad people and how they reacted.
But I quarrel with Mr. Coelho's development of characters, and especially with his choice of dialogue.Read more ›
Granted, this is the only work of Coelho's that I've read, and I'm reading it in translation, so I may not be getting the full effect. But so far as I can tell, this book is a series of serious missteps interspersed with only minor displays of skill.
I'm ceding it two stars because it's brief and simple, but that's the best thing I can think of to say about it.
This is a very easy and fast book to read I recommend this book in a long flight.
Most recent customer reviews
This book makes you think about what insanity is.
The book explores the experience of a young woman who, having survived a suicide attempt, finds herself in a mental... Read more
"Nothing in this world happens by chance."
Veronika believes life is worthless. What's the point of going around to meet someone who would no doubt marry you,... Read more
Paulo Coelho is a remarkable author, telling magical tails that always end with a twist: Veronika Decides to Die is no exception. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Clint Clarkson
It is so inspirational and it deals with an issue that many authors have stayed away from.
Incredible, Incredible read. I would read it over again.
A friend of mine had suggested I read this, and based on the reviews I saw on here it seemed like a good bet. Read morePublished on Dec 27 2011 by Tony (Toronto)
Failing to successfully take her own life, Veronika wakes to discover she is nonetheless dying, with very little time left to her - except that now, she will finally learn to... Read morePublished on Feb. 6 2009 by Why Not
A profound novel revolving around a deceptively simple theme.
I'm not really sure why I'm commenting on this. I guess because this book gave me a few "A HA! Read more
Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, has been awarded France's Legion d'Honneur, Italy's Grinzane Cavour and was inducted into the Brazilian Academy of Letters in 2002. Read morePublished on Jan. 22 2007 by Craobh Rua