The Alchemist is a short book with a powerful message. It is philosophical in a mainstream karma, hollow your heart, fate way. Now I don’t really go in for any of those things, I am much more of a physicist than a philosopher, but the story of The Alchemist is incredibly cute and heart warming.
Santiago an Andalusia shepherd boy dreams of travelling and after a mystical encounter with an old man he sets of on a journey through the deserts to the pyramids. The language, I of course am talking here of the English translation, invokes a fable or a bible story; it has the feeling of story time at school. This does mean it feels like the whole book is simply a vehicle for the moral and there is a little bit of “okay don’t worry I have taken note of that because by the way you are hinting it is going to be important at the end”, but it works. You know as soon as you start reading that reading isn’t the point of this book. This structure is quite nicely paralleled by the outcome of the book. If you have read it you will understand what I say when, for the knowledge to be obtained the journey has to be undertaken.
I became quite fond of Santiago although as a reader you do feel a little distanced from him. For me this made a nice change. Sometimes I don’t want emotions, emotions, emotions from a character; it is nice to observe them grow from a distance. In The Alchemist you never feel more than a casual observer of the scene allowing you to see the bigger picture. You see the whole of Santiago’s journey as it is unfolding not just the right this second POV action.
The ending really is wonderful. Although this book hasn’t changed my life as people often claim it does, it is a story I have come to love. I will probably read it again and at under 200 pages it won’t be too taxing. It feels like an escape and it is nice to dream about leaving it all behind as Santiago did from the comfort of my nice warm bed.
Would recommend to: perfect for January.