Adultery

( 45 )

Overview

I want to change. I need to change. I'm gradually losing touch with myself.

Adultery, the provocative new novel by Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, explores the question of what it means to live life fully and happily, finding the balance between life's routine and the desire for something new.

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Adultery: A novel

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Overview

I want to change. I need to change. I'm gradually losing touch with myself.

Adultery, the provocative new novel by Paulo Coelho, best-selling author of The Alchemist and Eleven Minutes, explores the question of what it means to live life fully and happily, finding the balance between life's routine and the desire for something new.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
06/30/2014
Coelho’s disappointing new novel suffers from its lead character’s navel-gazing. After an interview subject reveals his thoughts about living a passionate life to buttoned-up Linda, a 30-something journalist, mother, and wife to a loving, wealthy husband, she begins to believe her own life is empty. From there, she initiates an erotic affair with a high school boyfriend even after her first come-on leads him to suggest she enter marriage counseling. Her emotional nosedive includes an outrageous plan to win him over, and she ponderously dwells on John Calvin, St. Paul, King Solomon, Frankenstein, and Jekyll and Hyde. Coehlo’s best work is personal and expansive, whether it concerns a Jewish prophet in the ninth century B.C.E. (The Fifth Mountain) or a young shepherd (The Alchemist) traveling widely in pursuit of treasure. Unfortunately, this novel’s constrained Geneva setting lacks expansiveness, and what is personal quickly becomes plodding. For most of the story, Coelho abandons his beautifully spare, evocative prose in favor of overwrought sentences, returning to form only as the story nears its end. (Aug.)
From the Publisher
"Propulsive.... A compelling tale of existential angst, marital betrayal and sexual sin." —The Chicago Tribune
Kirkus Reviews
2014-07-01
A Swiss journalist strives toredress the meaninglessness of her life with even more meaningless sexualencounters in Coelho's latest pseudo-philosophical screed.Linda, a respected newspaperreporter in Geneva, is happily married to a handsome, wealthy and generousfinancier. The couple is blessed with beautiful and well-behaved children, atleast from what we see of the progeny, which isn't much. The vicissitudes ofdomestic life aren't Coelho's concern unless they offer a pretext forplatitudes about the eternal verities and The Things That Matter. When sheinterviews Jacob, a former flame from school days who's now a risingpolitician, Linda behaves professionally right until she administers a partingblow job. The ensuing affair jolts Linda out of the low-grade depression shehas been experiencing despite her enviable lifestyle. Her adulterous behaviordisturbs her, however, since she can't explain her own motives. After brieflytrying therapy, she consults a Cuban shaman, to no avail (except to generate asuccessful series of in-depth features on occult healing). Her bafflement isshared by the reader, who will be puzzled by the total lack of any convincingreason why she should be so infatuated with Jacob, who, in addition to beingvery thinly portrayed, apparently can't decide whether his amorous strategyshould be sensitive and romantic or something 50 or so shades greyer. After aclose call—Jacob's astute spouse almost exposes her—Linda decides that thefling isn't worth destroying lives over, as if these shallow existences wereunder any threat to begin with. Along the way to this realization, Coelho milkseach opportunity to preach—by way of endless interior monologues, quotes from Scriptureand talky scenes—sermons about love, marriage, sexual attraction, evolutionarytheory and every other imponderable he can muster. Occasional interestingtidbits about the novel's setting, the French-speaking Swiss canton of Vaud,are not enough to redeem the pervasive mawkishness.More trite truthiness from Coelho.
Library Journal
10/01/2014
The title says it all: the latest work by one of the world's best-selling authors (The Alchemist) follows what ensues when a happily married female journalist suddenly meets her successful politician ex-boyfriend.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781101874080
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 8/19/2014
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 29,012
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Paulo Coelho

One of the most influential writers of our time, Paulo Coelho is the author of many international best sellers, including The Alchemist, Aleph, Eleven Minutes, and Manuscript Found in Accra. Translated into 80 languages, his books have sold more than 165 million copies in more than 170 countries. He is a member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters and has received the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur. In 2007, he was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace. Translated by Margaret Jull Costa and Zoë Perry.
 
www.paulocoelhoblog.com 
 
Connect with the author: 
www.facebook.com/paulocoelho
Twitter: @paulocoelho

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    1. Hometown:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Education:
      Left law school in second year
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

"I WAKE up and perform the usual rituals—brushing my teeth, getting dressed for work, going into the children’s bedroom to wake them up, making break- fast for everyone, smiling, and saying how good life is. In every minute and gesture I feel a weight I can’t identify, like an ani- mal who can’t quite understand how it got caught in the trap. My food has no taste. My smile, on the other hand, grows even wider so that no one will suspect, and I swallow my desire to cry. The light outside seems gray. Yesterday’s conversation did no good at all; I’m starting to think that I’m headed out of the indignant phase and straight into apathy.

And does no one notice?

Of course not. After all, I’m the last person in the world to admit that I need help.

This is my problem; the volcano has exploded and there’s no way to put the lava back inside, plant some trees, mow the grass, and let the sheep out to graze.

I don’t deserve this. I’ve always tried to meet everyone’s expectations. But now it’s happened and I can’t do anything about it except take medication. Perhaps today I’ll come up with an excuse to write an article about psychiatry and social security (the newspaper loves that kind of thing) and find a good psychiatrist to ask for help. I know that’s not ethical, but then not everything is.

I don’t have an obsession to occupy my mind—for exam- ple, dieting or being OCD and finding fault with the clean- ing lady who arrives at eight in the morning and leaves at five in the afternoon, having washed and ironed the clothes, and tidied the house, and, sometimes, having even done the shopping, too. I can’t vent my frustrations by trying to be Super- mom, because my children would resent me for the rest of their lives.

I go off to work and again see the neighbor polishing his car. Wasn’t he doing that yesterday?

Unable to resist, I go over and ask him why.

“It wasn’t quite perfect,” he says, but only after having said “Good morning,” asking about the family, and noticing what a pretty dress I’m wearing.

I look at the car. It’s an Audi—one of Geneva’s nicknames is, after all, Audiland. It looks perfect, but he shows me one or two places where it isn’t as shiny as it should be.

I draw out the conversation and end up asking what he thinks people are looking for in life.

“Oh, that’s easy enough. Being able to pay their bills. Buying a house like yours or mine. Having a garden full of trees. Having your children or grandchildren over for Sunday lunch. Traveling the world once you’ve retired.”

Is that what people want from life? Is it really? There’s something very wrong with this world, and it isn’t just the wars going on in Asia or the Middle East.

Before I go to the newspaper, I have to interview Jacob, my ex-boyfriend from high school. Not even that cheers me up. I really am losing interest in things.

I LISTEN to facts about government policy that I didn’t even want to know. I ask a few awkward questions, which he deftly dodges. He’s a year younger than me, but he looks five years older. I keep this thought to myself. Of course, it’s good to see him again, although he hasn’t yet asked me what’s happened in my life since we each went our own way after graduation. He’s entirely focused on himself, his career, and his future, while I find myself staring foolishly back at the past as if I were still the adolescent who, despite the braces on my teeth, was the envy of all the other girls. After a while, I stop listening and go  on autopilot. Always the same script, the same promises- reducing taxes, combating crime, keeping the French (the so-called cross-border workers who are taking jobs that Swiss workers could fill) out. Year after year, the issues are the same and the problems continue unresolved because no one really cares. After twenty minutes of conversation, I start to wonder if my lack of interest is due to my strange state of mind. No. There is nothing more tedious than interviewing politicians. It would have been better if I’d been sent to cover some crime or another. Murderers are much more real.

Compared to representatives of the people anywhere else on the planet, ours are the least interesting and the most insipid. No one wants to know about their private lives. Only two things create a scandal here: corruption and drugs. Then it takes on gigantic proportions and gets wall-to-wall cover- age because there’s absolutely nothing else of interest in the newspapers.

Does anyone care if they have lovers, go to brothels, or come out as gay? No. They continue doing what they were elected to do, and as long as they don’t blow the national bud- get, we all live in peace.

The president of the country changes every year (yes, every year) and is chosen not by the people, but by the Federal Council, a body comprising seven ministers who serve as Switzerland’s collective head of state. Every time I walk past the museum, I see endless posters calling for more plebiscites.

The Swiss love to make decisions—the color of our trash bags (black came out on top), the right (or not) to carry arms (Switzerland has one of the highest gun-ownership rates in the world), the number of minarets that can be built in the country (four), and whether or not to provide asylum for expatriates (I haven’t kept pace with this one, but I imagine the law was approved and is already in force).

“Excuse me, sir.”

We’ve been interrupted once already. He politely asks his assistant to postpone his next appointment. My newspaper is the most important in French-speaking Switzerland and this interview could prove crucial for the upcoming elections.

He pretends to convince me and I pretend to believe him.

Then I get up, thank him, and say that I have all the mate- rial I need.

“You don’t need anything else?” Of course I do, but it’s not up to me to tell him what. “How about getting together after work?” I explain that I have to pick up my children from school, hoping that he sees the large gold wedding ring on my finger declaring: “Look, the past is the past.”

“Of course. Well, maybe we can have lunch someday.”

I agree. Easily deceived, I think: Who knows, maybe he does have something of importance to tell me, some state secret that will change the politics of the country and make the editor look at me with new eyes.

He goes over to the door, locks it, then comes back and kisses me. I return his kiss, because it’s been a long time. Jacob, whom I may have once loved, is now a family man, married to a professor. And I am a family woman, married to a man who, though he inherited his wealth, is extremely hardworking.

I consider pushing him away and saying that we’re not kids anymore, but I’m enjoying it. Not only did I discover a new Japanese restaurant, I’m having a bit of illicit fun as well. I’ve managed to break the rules and the world hasn’t caved in on me. I haven’t felt this happy in a long time.

I feel better and better, braver, freer. Then I do something I’ve dreamed of doing since I was in school.

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Reading Group Guide

  The questions, discussion topics, and reading list that follow are intended to enhance your reading group’s discussion of Adultery¸ international best-selling author Paulo Coelho’s gripping, intensely psychological portrait of a marriage on the brink of collapse, and the complex emotions that surface when trust is breached in a relationship.

1. In the beginning of the novel, Linda describes herself as risk-averse. How does the concept of risk taking factor into the protagonist’s actions throughout the novel? By the end of the novel, do you think that she associates risk with reward?

2. How is love defined throughout Adultery? On page 90, Linda contemplates requited versus unrequited love. Which type of love do you believe is more transformative in the novel?

3. Throughout the novel, the protagonist attempts to articulate what her unhappiness feels like: “an animal who can’t quite understand how it got caught in the trap,” a “spongy black hole.” How did these analogies help to shape your understanding of her mental state? Did you feel sympathy for the character throughout your reading experience?

4. On page 131, Linda claims she feels “comfortable in my madness.” Are there points where you feel that she is losing touch with reality or giving in to delusional thinking?

5. Why is Jacob so attractive to Linda? Is it the illicitness of their affair that excites her, or does she have a genuine appreciation for his personality? What aspects of his personality ­­are most appealing to her?

6. On page 125, the protagonist emphasizes the importance of “keeping up appearances.[PE1] ” How does that need to exhibit a normal, happy life arise throughout Adultery? Where in the novel do the boundaries between public and private personas become blurred?
 [PE1]Please verify that this is the page citation meant.

7. Discuss the significance of the novel Frankenstein throughout Adultery. How is the scientist/monster dichotomy reflected in the Linda’s own personality and actions?

8. On page 158, the protagonist laments that all she feels is “insomnia, emptiness, and apathy, and, if you just ask yourselves, you’re feeling the same thing.” Why do you think the author chose to direct that sentiment toward the reader? Are there other places in the novel wherein the protagonist assumes the reader feels the same way she does?

9. Examine the scene in which Marianne and Jacob dine with Linda and her husband. Based on what was said, do you think that Marianne had any suspicion about her husband’s affair? Or did Linda’s anxiety about the situation color her perception of Marianne’s words?

10. Discussions regarding drug usage in Switzerland occur several times in the book. Before going to meet the drug dealer, Linda notes that the Swiss “both prohibit and tolerate” drugs at the same time (page 116). What does this contradiction say about Swiss culture?

11. Adultery is set in Switzerland, and mentions of Swiss culture pepper the narrative. Discuss what you learned about Geneva and Swiss culture. Did anything surprise you? Are there any connections to be made between the discussion of cultural norms in Swiss culture and the protagonist’s actions?

12. As her affair progresses, Linda’s actions and thoughts take a darker, more obsessive tone. Did your perception of her change throughout the novel? How did you react to her decision to “destroy” Marianne?

13. Adultery is a novel that explores the line between morality and immorality. How does Linda define morality? How does her husband? What actions—if any—would you deem immoral?

14.  It could be argued that Adultery is about examining selfhood. How does Linda’s understanding of herself and her desires change by the end of the novel? What does her affair teach her about herself? About her relationship with her husband? Do you think she regrets her affair?

15. Discuss the scene in which the protagonist and her husband go paragliding (page 241). How does that experience transform her? Why do you think she cries after she lands?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
( 45 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(10)

4 Star

(12)

3 Star

(11)

2 Star

(3)

1 Star

(9)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 45 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 28, 2014

    First of all, I am surprised to see some reviews here that give

    First of all, I am surprised to see some reviews here that give one star to Adultery because B&N did not deliver the product. The problem with these reviews is that the lower the rate of this fantastic book.

    Now let's concentrate in more important matters: the book itself.
    In my life, I've gone straight from self- confidence to confession. This book made me starting to confess things to myself that would be best left unspoken.
    For example: the world has stopped. And we're trying to prove that life is still interesting.
    "But what exactly is missing in your life?"
    Please don't ask me that. Because the answer is nothing. Nothing! If only I had some serious problem. I don't know anyone who's going through quite the same thing. Even a friend of mine, who spent years feeling depressed, is now getting treatment.
    I don't think I need that, I don't think the main character in the book needs this, but there is something very strange happening with a lot of people, and it is not only fear. It is paranoia that we are losing control.
    We are not, if we know what to do with our life and if we are ready to take risks

    5 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 26, 2014

    ok... just finished Adultery and I really liked it. It's a diffe

    ok... just finished Adultery and I really liked it. It's a different style/genre for Coelho but I did truly enjoy it.
    You do have to be open-minded to read it though... I feel like the negative reviews I've read might be coming from scorned people
    or those that can't see "outside" the box. It is as the title suggest about sex outside the marriage but that's not the message of the book.
    And if that's all you get then you didn't really read the book... I think it's about self-discovery.
    About self-acceptance and self-love. The most important in life to truly be happy.
    No one else can nor should be responsible for that but yourself.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2014

    Very well written account of a woman thst is searching for answe

    Very well written account of a woman thst is searching for answers of the heart.  While very blatantly written, I coyld feel that any woman could relate.   I enjoyed this book.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 25, 2014

    BAD DELIVERY SERVICE B&N still waiting for my book though yo

    BAD DELIVERY SERVICE
    B&N still waiting for my book though you claimed you have shipped the book on (08/19/14).

    2 out of 29 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 23, 2014

    Wonderful Story....all women should read.

    Wonderful Story....all women should read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014

    Amazing

    Like always

    1 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2014

    Seriously

    Can someone who read it share some light and make a propper review.

    1 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2014

    REVIEW OF SERVICE NO BOOK Honestly Barnes and Noble? You can't d

    REVIEW OF SERVICE NO BOOK
    Honestly Barnes and Noble? You can't deliver a book in less than a week? My membership 
    states that I have a great shipping method, well I still haven't received my book yet and it has 
    been out for days. I know the issue because it said it on the shipping page, it took your company 
    two days to move the book from your warehouse to the UPS warehouse. For someone who works in the business of shipping things, I know this is purely poor service.

    1 out of 33 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 22, 2014

    Still waiting for the book when other people already received,  

    Still waiting for the book when other people already received,  what kind of expedited service is that slow?, I am going to cancel the membership is not worth it...

    1 out of 31 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2015

    Midlife crisis analysis

    But Adultery is a catchier title for sure. A quuck snd fun read examining life at 30, even though I would say most people don't hit these questions tilk at least 40 these days.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2014

    Great weekend Read!

    I thought it was an honeat uo front, feelings book. She was as honest with herself and situatuons, as anyone could be. The ending was a real omg moment with good life pinta at the end!
    Wondeful book!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 15, 2014

    Good read

    The book was good. I felt that the fact that she was the adulterer gave it a different spin. The end left me in awe. It had a very creative ending.....sometimes life can end that way.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2014

    Thought provoking, honest and earnest. A must read for all Paulo

    Thought provoking, honest and earnest. A must read for all Paulo fans looking for something new.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 3, 2014

    waste of my time

    Let me start by saying Paulo Coehlo is my favorite author. This book, however, was a complete waste of my time. Utter garbage! It was so cliche and boring.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 11, 2014

    Remembering how to keep love alive

    I resonated with Linda (minus the adultery) because we get consumed with the monotony of routine, resulting in falling into a slump.

    We must ingrain in our minds that marriage takes a lot of work to keep the marriage romance alive. We must be able to rely on our partner and trust in our partner to ask for help not look for it in the arms of a different person.

    We also must understand that everything we do bares consequences whether its good or bad. Reviving ourselves and rejuvenating our lives is important and we take into account to include the ones we love in that process.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 3, 2014

    Not so hot

    If you want to be depressed,bored and miserable,this is the book for you.The heroine should have just stayed in bed and slept it off.Don't bother!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 28, 2014

    Good read

    Better than i expected after reading other reviews

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 24, 2014

    Enjoyed the story although not one of his best. My pleasure in r

    Enjoyed the story although not one of his best. My pleasure in reading this book however was marred by the extremely poor quality of the paper and binding. I have previously purchased all of his books from the UK and they are high quality. I will not be purchasing books from this publisher in the future. 

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted September 19, 2014

    Perhaps, If Mr. Coelho emphasized the act of Adultery more in th

    Perhaps, If Mr. Coelho emphasized the act of Adultery more in the story I'll give it a five. I think, It needs more Adultery situation not just from Linda's part but also from Jason Konig's view.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2014

    Good, but you need to stick with it!

    I found that if I stuck with it, this book actually gets to be a good book. Some of its challenges though is that it is written by a male from a female perspective and female voice and at times it walks the line of that coming through, though it never actually does. But, there is an on-going friction that it might which is distracting. It made me want to quit reading the book at times, but I kept on with reading the book and it was worth it...the book is pretty good. And, often when I was ready to quit the book, the story took an unexpected turn that bith made me want to quit it and continue it at the same time, but again I kept on with it and somehow it turned oyt to be a good book. I suspect the author knew he was pushing his limits with these challenges, but also stuck with it to make it work. That feels like its in there somewhere. Is ut one of Coelho's best? No. But, is it possibly a book written that will help make a future book one of his best due to the challenges it feels he might have met to write this one? Maybe. Its worth reading if you stick with it despite its challenges to the reader.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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