“Standing the Test of Time” could be the mantra of many married couples, and quite possibly an underlying current for Paulo Coelho’s new novel, ADULTERY. After all, anyone can be left to wonder Is that all there is? when the romance part of any relationship phases out... as it does in this story. With raw emotions and sexually explicit language, Coelho creates a storyline of romantic apathy that could be offensive, but isn’t. In fact, the narrative of a woman in her 30s questioning her so-called “perfect life” actually pulls at the heart, while being both enticing and erotic --- allowing fantasies to run rampant --- which isn’t always a bad thing, since “Variety is the spice of life.” And yet, if all of these phrases ring true --- as the storyline insinuates --- one is left to wonder if you need to sell your soul to “keep the love light burning” or “should someone beg forgiveness for harboring an impossible love.”
With thought-provoking honesty, the characters in this novel are given a voice that reverberates through time and space. It’s hard to remain monogamous when married and, statistically, more difficult for men, since women are much better at self-control. But sometimes the strain of life proves to be too much, and either spouse is capable of cheating, even when involved in a satisfactory marriage. And it quickly becomes apparent that sexual and personal discovery --- at the expense of someone you love --- can be bought. But at what price?
"With raw emotions and sexually explicit language, Coelho creates a storyline of romantic apathy that could be offensive, but isn’t. In fact, the narrative of a woman in her 30s questioning her so-called “perfect life” actually pulls at the heart, while being both enticing and erotic..."
As a thirty-something, Linda is experiencing an especially depressing time in her life. Yes, she is happily married, loves her kids and her job, and feels satisfied with life, but she still can’t shake this melancholy. Ultimately, she is beginning to wonder if she needs medical help or a reality check. So, after taking the medical route and deciding she doesn’t want to experience life in a pill-induced haze, she decides to get through life as best she can. In other words, she’s going to make a go of it on her own, hoping that things will go back to normal, if she just gives it some time. As with many things, though, time isn’t always on her side, and the appearance of an old flame proves to be too much of a good thing.
Jacob, the budding politician and happily married friend from her past, becomes the “lightning bolt that brings the monster to life” for Linda in this epic tale of misplaced love. Along with some spicy dialogue and a vivid narrative, a visual effect of frosty delight versus simmering despair is always just below the surface, which ultimately turns the heroine’s life upside down, as she contemplates a new life with her lover or complacency with her husband. With a proclivity for presenting the cold hard facts, the cast of supporting characters are also able to effortlessly bring the message home through the author’s narrative. We often hear what seems to be great ideas, capable of transforming lives, but they are words spoken without feeling or emotion. And, as the following quote from Corinthians expresses (included in the novel), “Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” Therefore, no matter how intelligent or logical the words might be, if they are “empty of love,” they do not touch us.
In my estimation, ADULTERY places a cohesive value on the concept of unrequited love reaffirmed, and Coelho sums it up quite nicely with Prophecy, with knowledge of life’s mysteries, and with Faith and Charity. Love is more important than Faith because Faith is merely the road that brings us to Greater Love; Love is more important than Charity because Charity is only one of the manifestations of Love and only one of the many roads that Love uses to bring us closer to one another, reminding us that the whole is always more important than the parts.
Reviewed by Donna Smallwood on August 22, 2014
- Publication Date: August 19, 2014
- Genres: Fiction
- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Knopf
- ISBN-10: 1101874082
- ISBN-13: 9781101874080