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The all-new format of ALEPH, the third sacred journey undertaken by Paulo Coelho, following on from BRIDA and THE PILGRIMAGE. 'Poetic and uplifting' GRAZIA In his most personal novel to date, Paulo Coelho confronts a grave crisis of faith. On a journey to revitalise his energy and passion he meets Hilal. A gifted young violinist, she is the woman Paulo loved five hundred years before - and the woman he betrayed in an act of terrible cowardice, the consequences of which still echo through the centuries. But now they have ...

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Jun 14, 2012

spiritualist soft-core sadism

This is a deeply unpleasant novel, the first of the author's that I have read, and probably the last. Human relationships, primarily it seems heterosexual ones, are drained of a contemporary context and recast instead as refractions of former lives. One can self-time-warp back to whenever it is by standing near the junction between railway carriages or by imagining oneself to jiggle hula-hoops up and down one's body, sort of Paul Daniels' assistant on LSD. Back then, the narrator presided over the religious torture and slaughter of young women, which gives the author the opportunity for gratuitous Mills & Boon style soft-core sadism, which he attempts to justify by co-opting shamans to his tawdry and moneygrubbing purposes. It's all about him anyway, an egomaniac who never tires of signing his own books at every stop on his long and tedious trundle across the tundra to Vladivostok aboard the trans-Siberian express while practising his own form of selfish Tantric mind-sex with a violin-playing nymphomanic who if she had had half a personality would have settled his nonsense with a meat-cleaver well before they got to Novosibirsk. Coelho at one point has the temerity to suggest that Lenin (he'd just spotted a statue) would have done better to spread a form of universal love rather than try to better the lot of the working class. Oh yes? So the rest of the world, and western Europe in particular, would have been able to withstand Hitler if the Red Army had not (as Winston Churchill put it) 'torn the guts out of the Nazi war machine'? And how would the faux-spiritual Mr Coelho have tried to do that? With hula-hoops perhaps?

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