A Book Review: Adultery by Paulo Coelho


Title: Adultery
Author: Paulo Coelho
Genre: Adult Fiction
Publisher: Vintage (August 19, 2014)
Publication Date: August 19, 2014
Print length: 274 pages

Paulo Coelho, the best selling author of The Alchemist, The Winner Stands Alone, and Eleven Minutes presents the effects of the mundanity of marriage on a woman who got it all - a successful career, a loving, wealthy husband, a picture-perfect family, a beautiful house in a rich city. In hopes of feeling alive again, she got herself into an affair with her ex-boyfriend from high school. The difficult moment of her life revealed the things she's capable of,  the state of her mind, and the things that matter most in her life.

Linda started with what she does in a day. She wakes up early in the morning, makes breakfast for her family, walks her children to school, goes to work, comes home after work, spends time with her husband and children, goes to bed, rinse and repeat.

One day, wanting to know if she's depressed, she went out for lunch with her friend who had been on antidepressants, asking her questions about depression and its symptoms. She almost checked out all the boxes for being depressed.

The next day, she went on with her boring routine, doing the usual things she does every day. Everything was not interesting anymore even her job as a journalist. On that day, she was assigned to interview her ex-boyfriend who was a politician to talk about the same boring things: politics, taxes, crimes. The interview ended but Jacob König canceled his next appointment, closed the door, and kissed Linda who didn't hesitate to give in. A sense of control, a sense of adventure, a sense of freedom awakened in her.  Breaking the rules made her so happy. At home, she tried to conceal that happiness by acting normal, doing the same things after work to avoid suspicions from her husband.  Even though on the outside she appeared the way she was yesterday, inside she acknowledged that she was having a crisis after long years of marriage. 

Linda met Jacob again in an expensive restaurant, talking about their lives.  She was surprised when Jacob asked her if she's happy. She didn't answer but her silence said it all. Jacob revealed that he was unhappy, too,  and tired from trying to please the people around him including her wife. Shocked by his honesty, she thought that people who are plagued with inner struggles find their way to each other, aggravating their plight.  Finally, someone understood her. She felt she was falling in love with him again.

Linda's boss found out about her meeting with Jacob and asked her if she managed to get an exclusive interview with that politician. According to him, his source suggested that a foreign company was blackmailing Jacob to help them remove evidence of corruption in its own country. Photos and confirmation from the politician were what the newspaper needed to publicly condemn those who wanted to defile their political system. Her boss ordered her to get closer to him which was easy for he also knew that she's going to meet Jacob again.

They met again but instead of having an in-depth talk about the real business, blackmail, corruption, and infidelity- Jacob also had an affair with another politician's wife, Jacob changed the subject and asked her if she wanted to know why he wanted to see her again. He could see himself in her, unhappy and mentally exhausted. He asked whether she thought he was sexually attracted to her. They were not teenagers anymore. He just wanted to know why she's not happy. Linda didn't like his questions. Feeling attacked, she stood up and told him she was actually happy, he should go see a doctor to cure his depression without letting his wife know about it and try other things to make himself happy. But after saying all that, she kissed Jacob.  She crossed the threshold of becoming a mistress which she thought brought her soul back.

After having several rendezvous afterward, Linda was convinced that she was in love with Jacob and that she wanted to snatch him from his wife. However, at one point,  she came back to her senses, stopped seeing Jacob, and looked for help from psychiatrists and a shaman. The latter told her to go all the way to the end of the game for he saw in her soul has more light than darkness.

She took the shaman's advice and continued to have secret meetings with Jacob. One thing that surprised her was her inclination to sadomasochistic sexual activities. Maybe she was not in love with him, he just awakened something in her.

After the election- Jacob won and became a member of the Council of State, Linda, together with her husband, attended an event hosted by a TV station. Jacob and her wife were at the party as well. Linda had been trying to hide or stay away from them but was unsuccessful when the host asked her to give a speech. In the middle of her speech, she saw Mr. and Mrs. König standing beside her husband. She ended her speech quickly and walked toward where her husband was standing. Madame König invited them to dinner to which Linda's husband accepted.

Linda felt uneasy; Jacob was also wondering why her wife made this dinner happened. At the table, the four of them had a small talk but until Mme König talked about jealousy. She said she didn't feel jealous of women who were having an affair with her husband but horniness. She would ask Jacob to do to her what he did to his mistresses who were unloved, insecure women. Jacob tried to convince the participants of this little show that his wife was just making that up, that it's just her fantasies. Linda was shocked when she realized that Jacob enjoyed his wife's treatment of him, the "unfaithful male". She didn't like where the conversation was heading so she got back at Mme. König, telling her that jealous people would never show in public how they feel. They would try to catch their partner's infidelity by setting a trap and too naive to think they would be successful. If she had an affair with her husband, she would never fall for her trap. Linda's husband was shocked. Mme König asked him if his wife really thought she was describing her. Linda was so angry with her.

Linda took a sleeping pill that night and slept for ten hours. The next day, she received a text from Jacob saying that she let the cat out of the bag. She cried and cried on that day. She realized it was time to be honest with her husband.

After work, she set the place by the fireplace with wine and assorted cheeses. Her husband came downstairs and saw what she did. They sat on the sofa. She said there's something she wanted to tell him but it's not about her fear of being depressed. Her husband interrupted her and talked about going after a dream that comes with a price, about why he's controlling his jealousy, about how strong his love is more than anything else. He understood if she wanted to leave him. Linda cried and rest her head on his shoulder.

For the last time, Linda went to see Jacob at his office and made love with him. It was her way of ending their illicit relationship. She told Jacob that her husband loved her so much, he made her feel she's worth a lot despite what she did. His wife must also want him to end this relationship so she could love him. They bid each other goodbye.

Linda spent the New Year with her husband in Interlaken where they visited before they got married. In order to add adventure to their marriage, they went paragliding. Linda was scared to try it but she went anyway. While she was flying in the sky, she realized a lot of things about love and truth. She's finally free.

For me, the book is beyond its title and the lead character. The reader must keep in mind that this is in the point of view of Linda whose concept of love, marriage, and life should be taken with a grain of salt. She tried to justify her infidelity by distorting the true definition of love. Coelho showed the character of Linda through her fears, beliefs, and choices. Surprisingly, I became so engaged in the story that I felt sorry for her. I couldn't put the book down for I was eager to know if she was able to overcome this challenge and would still have her husband, her family, and her career in the end.

The part that was confusing is the style of the dialogue. For the most part,  I could follow what Linda tells until she got into a conversation with one of the characters. I would get confused because I had to think if she talking to me or to one of the characters.

All in all, this book is a good read. The story is not all about the journey of a woman finding change in her life but also a story of spiritual awakening. Every challenge in life brings a  lesson and it keeps on coming back until you learn it. It's like losing yourself in order to find yourself.  It is just sad that in order to find herself, Linda hurt her husband along the way. Her husband's true love kept the important things in her life.