Veronika decides to Die - A book review


The popular Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho is well known for his international bestseller, 'The Alchemist'. In his present novel 'Veronika decides to Die', he addresses the fundamental questions which generally pop up in thousands of the minds - What am I doing here today? Why do I go on living and what purpose does it serve? The novel picturizes the very essentials of life and how one should feel happy during the span of his life.

A path-breaking and novelistic book 'Veronika wants to die' has been published by Oxford University Press, a prestigious international publishing house. It was authored by the prominent Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho who has at credit the most popularly read books like 'Alchemist', 'The Pilgrimage' and 'The winner stands alone'.

A brief sketch of the novel

The story is about Veronika, a young lady aged about 24 years. In spite of her youth and beauty, plenty of attractive boyfriends, a good job with a handsome salary and a loving family, she feels some void in her life. The ill feelings of lack of something have deeply penetrated into her and one fine morning , Veronika decides to die by consuming handful of sleeping pills expecting never to wake up.

The story takes a twist when she realises that she landed at Villete, a local mental hospital and the suicide bid was uneventful. It takes no time for her that she is struggling for her life and partly succeeded in her bid to end her life abruptly as the overdose of pills affected some vital organs of the body. She has hardly few days to live.

The environment in the hospital made her to rediscover her life and repents for taking such a foolish decision. As her life hangs in balance, her determination to live in the loving world grows. Life appears to be more beautiful than before. She was unable to bear the tension as she finds every second of her existence is a choice between living and dying. The eleventh hour realisation emerges more open to life but it is too late. The companionship of the inmates of Villete patients reflects the heart of human experience and everyone appears to be a guide for her in their own way. She spent her life before committing suicide attempt in an individualistic way in her own style and never gave space to various elements of human weakness such as hatred, fear, curiosity, love, and sexual awakening.

Sailing in a sinking boat amidst of deep sea or rather, standing at the cross roads of despair, hope, life hanging in balance and a new found destiny in the vicinity of hospital, Veronica wants to have a rebirth to enjoy the beauty of life. She learns about the real meaning of life from the other inmates at Villete. Everyday seemed to her to be a renewed opportunity to have a better life as ever before though death started staring in her eyes. She tries to understand the fact of life through the other inmates of the hospital Marie, Edward and few others. Edward comes to know about his madness but tries to adjust with it as no other go but to live with it.

The King and the people:

The author chose to give an example to justify the statement that one should enjoy his own world and should get accustomed to the situation. Once there was a king and he ruled his kingdom to the best satisfaction of the people. The kingdom flourished with all prosperity and health during his tenure. A magician felt jealous of the atmosphere and he planned to see that all the people fell sick. He mixed a powder in the water of a big well that caters the water resource of the people of the kingdom. Everyone drank the water and it affected the brain of each individual. They started behaving strangely and the king was shocked to see the change in his courtiers also. He ordered for investigation to find the reasons while the enquiry officers heckled at the king as they also fell prey to the magic power. Instead, everyone started thinking that the king became mad. They went on to the extent of planning to replace him. The queen was very wise and secretly investigated the reason and came to know that the ill affect was the result of drinking some polluted water on a particular day. The royal family has a separate well in their palace and that was the reason they were in senses. She told the King about the incidence and suggested to drink the water so that they too can behave in the same way instead of getting ousted by the people or a coup. Sooner did they implement the idea, they also behaved in the same way and the people were happy. Only the neighbouring kings and people got surprised of the mad world prevailing in their next door. Let it be. The king could find peace and adjusted to the changed scenario.

Thus the author wanted to dwell on the subject and teaches the readers with a sense of philosophy that when certain things are inevitable, we have to accept it and get tuned to the atmosphere to create happiness for ourselves.

Sum up:

Veronika Decides to Die – a reading of this book would surely work as medicine for those individuals who lose their balance in life and suffer from frustration. A poignant and fire sparking novel which questions the meaning of madness and sends a message to the reader that every moment of life should be enjoyed keeping aside all the negative factors that try to influence the greatest moments as a part of the game of life. This book portrays the beauty of life and how it is destroyed by ourselves with our extreme thinking by giving space to over-excitement and feeling some blank in life.


Article by Jagdish Patro
Jagdish Patro is a freelance writer and a regular contributor to ISC and other websites. Fond of reading books, novels and spends his leisure time by listening to music. He did his B.Sc in Applied Chemistry and his M.Sc in Resource Development Technology. He edited and published an in-house monthly journal by name ‘Srujana’ during 2009-2011 which was totally a private circulation.

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