“Sometimes you have to lose yourself to discover who you are.”
As a married spouse, what goes through your mind when your life becomes predictable and boring? Do you begin to seek adventure elsewhere? Do you stay quiet and suffer being in a loveless marriage? This is the premise that Paulo Coelho explores in his sixteenth novel Adultery. (Any comparison made to Fifty Shades of Grey should be thrown out because Adultery is much better written and a classier novel)
Coelho, the worldwide popular Brazilian novelist, has come up with a brilliant book. He delves into the mind of a woman, who is suffering from depression in her marriage. What she thinks and what she experiences in life is perfectly captured by Coelho’s, leaving you wondering at times how such a genius mind can get into the mind of a woman.
Linda is in her 30s begins to questions the monotony of her life. She is married to a rich and loving husband and has two wonderful children, yet feels lonely. She has a demanding job as a journalist. In short, in everyone else’s eyes, she has the perfect life. But underneath this façade, lies a very depressed woman who is struggling to fake her happiness.
Through a news story, she gets to meet Jacob, a politician, who also happens to be her ex-boyfriend. During the interview, she is aroused by him and his charms and thus embarks on an affair with him. Jacob takes time away from his wife and Linda takes time away from her family and meets up with Jacob. With each subsequent meeting, their affair takes off into a more dangerous territory, which leaves her excited and conflicted. Linda struggles heavily in trying to keep her affair hidden from her husband yet also makes the effort to hang on to the love and adulation she receives from Jacob.
Through a twist of events, Linda is forced to go through a series of human emotions- in other words she loses herself in the process as she develops anger, jealousy and resentment- before she finds her redemption and rediscovers who she is, what she is made of and what she is capable of. I can rave about the ending, but I would rather not because as a reader it is something one has to experience. I literally had goose bumps as I followed Linda on her path to redemption.
While the basic premise may seem trivial, I have to say that this was one book that completely bowled me over, primarily because of the way it’s been written. Coelho is a genius when it comes to sharing practical words of wisdoms and he weaves them into his novels so beautifully. Universal issues that we humans face on a daily basis are wonderfully encapsulated in Linda’s life: depression, loneliness, longing for love, acceptance among other.
A particular passage struck me deeply:
“We aren’t who we want to be. We are what society demands. We are what our parents choose. We don’t want to disappoint anything; we have a great need to be loved. So we smother the best in us. Gradually, the light of our dreams turns into a monster of our nightmares. They become things not done, possibilities not lived.”
Living in Lahore, I’ve seen how strong the pressure is from society to get married, to choose a particular career path among other external factors that dictate a person’s life. Even though some of us may be more liberated, the family structure set up is such that one has no absolute freedom to make the choice they would like to make.
Yet another passage spoke of the harsh reality of the increasing number of failed marriages.
“What kills a relationship between two people is precisely the lack of challenge, the feeling that nothing is new anymore. We need to continue to be a surprise for each other.”
As times are changing, we hear more and more about failed marriages, separation and divorces, which is why Adultery is an important book for today’s time. While it may seem exciting to embark on an adulterous affair, there is a price to pay for the consequences.
Adultery has been on the bestseller list worldwide and critics have lapped it up. It’s a quick short read but very a profound experience to go through.
Originally published in Royal Palm Golf and Country Club Magazine, Annual Edition, July 2015