This book was sent to me by Penguin Random House India in exchange of an honest review
Remember the time when you read Paulo Coelho for the first time and absolutely loved him? The first book I read by him was ‘Veronica Decides to die’ and thought it was brilliant. It had a message that made sense to my sensibilities at that time. I then went on to read everything else by him that I could find. Interestingly, I did not love ‘The Alchemist’ as much as most people did, most of whom were men.
In Adultery, we meet Linda, who is a journalist in her thirties, with a husband and two children, living in Switzerland and rich to boot. Her clothes are designer and she has a picture perfect life. Until, that is, the day she decides she is depressed with the perfection all around her and embarks on the road to adultery to alleviate her boredom. For this purpose, she chooses the convenient ex-boyfriend, Jacob, who is now a prominent politician and has just strolled back into her life.
I did not like the book. To be honest, I haven’t liked his last two offerings either. But by some misplaced sense of loyalty and seduced by the beautiful cover of this one, I still fell into the trap of reading it in the hopes of finding something of the connect that I had felt with his earlier works. Now I wonder, whether his books are the kind that can only be enjoyed when you are in your teens and early twenties. At that time, his stories felt like very sophisticated works of literature and seemed to have deep philosophical meanings. At this stage, his work seems contrived and ‘trying too hard’ to be cool and full of hidden depths. Frankly, the pseudo problems of the super rich fail to evoke any kind of favourable response in my bosom.
I am old-fashioned for sure, but in no way am I a prude – either in real life or in my reading choices. However, reading about Linda giving her ex-boyfriend a blowjob out of the blue at their first meeting in years and immediately following a political interview, during which she was completely bored and is thinking of anything but sex, without any provocation/sweet-talk was jarring and crude. It read like typical male fantasy fluff. Jacob’s wife also makes an appearance early on and very carefully marks her territory by being condescending and hostile to Linda, which only manages to spur her on in the affair. As Linda progresses to obsessing about Jacob, who was just trying to have some fun on the side, and stalking him at home and work to trying to get his wife into jail, the story just gets more and more unpalatable. Her long conversations with herself on the meaning of love appear to be ramblings of a mind looking for excuses instead of any deep insights into the same. She meets a drug dealer and thinks he is ‘someone special’ and ‘experienced and knowledgeable’ and someone who she can talk to. Dear god!
And after all this, does she do something new? Does she leave her husband or even her job to explore a new/ different path? No, she only realizes that after all she loves her rich husband and her perfect children and would like to stay with them.
What was the point of this book, I think and wonder. It was supposed to be a voyage of self-discovery by a woman going through mid-life crises, but was it really? I feel zero empathy for her and her discoveries and feel utterly sorry for her husband who ‘knows’ but will never condemn and is surely a saint.
Unfortunately, this will be the last Paulo Coelho I will ever read. Well, it was fun while it lasted 🙂