Book Review: “Brida” by Paulo Coelho

“Whenever you have to find about something, Plunge right in!” The above line, borrowed from the latest offering of Paulo Coelho named ’Brida’ sums up all about what this book is all about. Search for one’s destiny, true love and a soul mate, finding a path to a higher and more joyous self, making choices that lead to these desirables are the usual Paulo Coelho staples themes that one finds in Brida, the author’s latest offering. This is both the strength and weakness of the new novel. While these themes have been responsible for his best-sellers like the Alchemist and Eleven Minutes selling over 100 million books in 66 languages, with Brida they seem not shine with the usual Coelho brilliance. However, the novel does retain some elements of his usual eloquence and wisdom and can be read for the same. The book is a tad repetitive though and falters in weaving the Coelho brand of magic and philosophy that usually finds a resonance with most of his readers. The novel follows the journey of 21-year old girl, Brida who was a ”witch” or an enlightened woman in her past reincarnations and had forgotten the same through various births. However, the attraction to occult and magic lingered in her memory and made her seek teachers and knowledge

that would guide her on this path. As she embarks on her journey, she rediscovers her gift through the teachings of a wise man and a tarot card reader who is herself a witch. This woman teaches her to dance to the hidden music of the world and connect with her soul through her own voyage of discovery. Coelho’s books allow the reader to slow down, introspect and find answers to questions like who we are and what our place in the world is. With Brida, the author seems to have hit a rough patch. The storyline is a bit sketchy. However, Coelho fans would recognize that Brida takes forward the “witch” or free, joyful and intuitive woman” theme that he had introduced with his earlier novel “The Witch of Portobello”. In all, it’s a hit or miss book -- a hit with regular Coelho readers and perhaps a miss with first time Coelho readers. Brida is the story of a search of learning by a young girl who is seemingly naïve, but she is neither naïve nor lacking in intellect, since she has had a few incarnations, in which she knew a lot about being a witch. Brida is a beautiful, ambitious, and successful person, and she has a very supportive boyfriend, Lorenz. The story takes place in Ireland during 1983 and 1984. The story opens with Brida telling Magus that she wants to learn magic. What Brida doesn't know at that moment is that she is Magus's soul mate. This she will find out toward the end of the book together with who she is and what the deeper meaning in her life is, by getting transported to a parallel universe and through other supernatural experiences.

Magus is the teacher of the tradition of the sun. Brida's other teacher is Wicca, who is a witch, and she teaches Brida the tradition of the moon. This story's construction does not live up to the quality of Coelho's other work; however, it is easy to find the characters real enough, and the book is interspersed with spiritual sayings and messages. Since the plot has no twists, the storyline seems to be prolonged, possibly because the writer wants the reader to pay attention to the messages rather than the story. In addition, wanting to learn to be a witch is melded with wanting to learn wisdom, and this reader wonders if the author views wisdom in its totality as being on the same level of becoming a witch. Still, the book has inspirational passages, even if it disappoints where the story weaving is concerned. For example: "Life is about making mistakes," said the Teacher. "Cells went on reproducing themselves in exactly the same way for millions of years until one of them made a mistake, and introduced change into that endless cycle of repetition." Then, Paolo Coelho bonds the teachings of Christianity with the Tarot, witchcraft, mysticism, and other practices. The rituals of the witches are described in detail in several passages. This is not necessarily harmful, but those who may be put off by such practices should stay away from this book.

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