I think with this book I am finally starting to understand Paulo Coelho, as a writer. The expectation is that all his books are like “The Alchemist.”, but the reality is very different.
The Winner Stands Alone is in fact extremely different. It is similar to books like “The Warrior of Light” in the sense that the messages and insight in the story are consistent with the theme of discovery and analysis of oneself(or human nature). The major difference between “The Winner Stands Alone” and others books I have read from Paulo Coelho is that in this book, the story takes as much precedence as the knowledge and insight. In fact, my appreciation for him as a story teller really increased as a result of reading this book.
The book is written from the perspective of multiple different characters, who are all attending the Cannes Film Festival, but all for very different reasons. The reader sees the perspectives shared of the experience, while a crime thriller plot develops. I’ve only read a few crime thrillers with such an in-depth look into the character’s heads. It was pleasant to read it as an narrative, but also the introspective assessments of each character, and how they are emotionally impacted by each scenario. Paulo Coelho is really a master at helping the reader understand human nature and behaviour.
One criticism I would have is that I feel Paulo’s “voice” is too evident in every character. Since each character’s story is told from a first person perspective the level of self-assessment and analysis displayed by each character about oneself is slightly unrealistic. I feel every character is very philosophical and too aware in the shortcomings of their own nature for it to believable. From the Middle Eastern Fashion mogul to the American actress they all have too similar ways of assessing and characterising their life until this point. Yet, I can also acknowledge that it may have appeared this way to me, due to my lack of understanding of human nature (who am I to question Paulo?).
The book is a very compelling read, yet if you are reading purely to be inspired or looking of a book that has more of a “self-help” nature I wouldn’t recommend it. I am a fan of the idea of philosophy being entwined with a complex narrative (like the matrix), so this book appealed to me as a page turner, but not something I would read multiple times.
Overall, an impressive book and I would recommend to fans of Paulo Coelho, but specifically those who enjoy reading fiction stories. I make this distinction, because many of my friends, purely enjoy reading “Self-Help” books, if you fall into that category this one may not be for you.
UOSB rating 5/10
Read “The Winner Stands Alone” here: http://fave.co/1Hk5X3L