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Adultery: A novel

Adultery: A novel

3.1 48
by Paulo Coelho

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

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


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

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.  

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Thirtysomething Linda has it all. She's fabulously wealthy with an adoring husband, two perfect children, and a challenging job as a journalist. Then, during an interview with a writer, his throwaway comment about preferring dangerous passion to comfortable happiness sets Linda on an increasingly out-of-control cure for her restless boredom. Desperate to climb out of her angst, she concludes another interview assignment, this time with Jacob Konig, an old high school boyfriend-turned-rising Swiss politician, by performing quickie oral sex. Konig, already being blackmailed for a previous affair, leads Linda into an ugly liaison of debauched sex and vengeful jealousy. Though each has so much to lose, they flagrantly push the envelope of their egocentric needs. VERDICT It is a risky literary challenge to generate interest in a character who rails wildly against her self-described boring life. Brazilian author Coelho (The Alchemist), one of the most translated international novelists of all time, is perhaps too successful. Linda's adultery, more tedious than convincing, will fail to convince the reader to accept her guilt-free rationale for her behavior. [See Prepub Alert, 5/19/14.]—Beth Andersen, formerly with Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI

Product Details

Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
Vintage International
Sold by:
Random House
Sales rank:
File size:
2 MB

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.

Meet the Author

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.
Connect with the author: 
Twitter: @paulocoelho 

From the Hardcover edition.

Brief Biography

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Date of Birth:
August 24, 1947
Place of Birth:
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Left law school in second year

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Adultery 3.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 48 reviews.
skyde_k More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was just so bad. Main female character, clearly written by a man. Little to nothing about her was likable or relatable. Only reason I finished it was because I was on a long flight. Nearly closed the book for good multiple times.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the first few chapters, I was waiting for Mr. Coelho's voice. I kept saying to myself, "Did he write this book?" Then the wisdom he provides finally showed up to talk some sense into this silly woman through the shaman & then her husband. I thought the first part of the book dragged a bit. I was a little sick of the melodrama of the protagonist.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
ShakespeareInLove More than 1 year ago
Wonderful Story....all women should read.
ShemB More than 1 year ago
As other reviewers have mentioned, I too am a huge Coelho fan...he's my favorite author. I'm afraid to say however, that I did not enjoy this book. I picked it up several times to read but I don't think I even completed the third chapter. Very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
TERRIBLE BOOK. I will literally slap myself if I buy another book by this author. Could he be any more pompous or arrogant!!!! This storyline went nowhere and for those women who wrote they loved the book you need to take a good look at yourself if this whining, boring character represents YOU as a woman.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thought provoking, honest and earnest. A must read for all Paulo fans looking for something new.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Better than i expected after reading other reviews
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good book - didn't know what to expect but enjoyed it