Adultery

Adultery

3.2 45
by Paulo Coelho
     
 

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In the latest novel from #1 best-selling author Paulo Coelho, a woman attempts to overcome midlife ennui by rediscovering herself in a passionate relationship with a man who had been a friend in her youth.

A woman in her thirties begins to question the routine and predictability of her days. In everybody's eyes, she has a perfect life: happy marriage,

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Overview

In the latest novel from #1 best-selling author Paulo Coelho, a woman attempts to overcome midlife ennui by rediscovering herself in a passionate relationship with a man who had been a friend in her youth.

A woman in her thirties begins to question the routine and predictability of her days. In everybody's eyes, she has a perfect life: happy marriage, children, and a career. Yet what she feels is an enormous apathy. All that changes when she encounters a successful politician who had, years earlier, been her high school boyfriend. As she rediscovers the passion missing from her life, she will face a life-altering choice.

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.)
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.
From the Publisher
“An exceptional writer.” —USA Today 
 
“Propulsive. . . .  A compelling tale of existential angst, marital betrayal and sexual sin.” —The Chicago Tribune
 
 “Pulls at the heart, while being both enticing and erotic. . . .  With thought-provoking honesty, the characters in this novel are given a voice that reverberates through time and space.” —Bookreporter

Adultery perfectly illustrates the faint line between madness and insanity, happiness and unhappiness and the eternal search for our own ‘personal legend.’” —Daily Express (London)
 
“A novelist who writes in a universal language.” —The New York Times
 
“Spiritualists and wanderlusts will eagerly devour . . . [Coelho’s] search for all things meaningful.” —The Washington Post
 
“A cerebral and subtle writer.” —The New York Journal of Books
 
“[Coelho’s] books have had a life enhancing impact on millions of people.” —The Times (London)

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:
08/19/2014
Pages:
272
Sales rank:
93,349
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)

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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