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Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

On the morning of November 11, 1997, Veronika decides to die. She takes a handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up.*

She opens her eyes under the bright fluorescent lights of Villette, a famous and much-feared lunatic asylum, much to her horror. In the wake of her overdose, she was told her heart was badly damaged and she only has a few days to live.

Amidst confused feelings of gratitude, the opposite happens to her. Inside the asylum, she is confronted by the idiosyncrasies of fellow patients, their stories and lamentations and, unwittingly, something slowly unfolds within her under the heightened awareness of losing time; her own growing self-discovery, unbidden emotions in flux, a fragile seed of hope to almost live.

Coelho brilliantly puts the insane world in an appealing light. The odd perspective which often displays a radical sense (that in our normal lives give that flair of zest) gives a much better excuse to be ever more queer. Feelings of empathy surfaces, like you wouldn't mind being inside there yourself.

It's unsettling to realize this novel, out of all Coelho's books I'd read, resonated most to me. The pervading gloom surrounding Slovenia mirrors the dim chambers of Veronika's torturous mind. This book isn't so much as Veronika as studying the shadowy threads of our thoughts. I could understand perceptibly her musings of pointlessness, a lone universe stretching out to make us imagine the days ahead that isn't really unfolding.

It almost reminds me of Frost's poem Desert Places, only that in the end I am left with overwhelming exhilaration instead of wistfulness and weighing nostalgia.


A dramatic story of love, life and death that shows us all why every second of our existence is a choice we all make between living and dying.
Title: Veronika Decides to Die
Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Philosophy, Drama
Published: 2000
Publisher: Harper Collins
Rating: ♨♨♨ 1/2 (4 and a half cups - Bleeding painful and exhilarating at the same time.)


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