Veronika Decides to Die – review

Veronika Decides to DieI finished reading Veronika Decides to Die (link contains spoilers) last night. It was to be my last time reading Coelho if it disappointed me because I hated The Alchemist so much, I swore I would never read anything from him again. My expectations were very low, to say the least, so I’d nothing to lose. And I really enjoyed, it as it happens.

Veronika, a young girl who has everything to live for (it seems), decides to take her own life. Her attempt is unsuccessful and she’s told that while she survived, the damage to her heart is irreparable and she will only live for a short while. She’s to spend the rest of her days in a mental institution, Vilette, which is a treatment centre for the ill and a refuge for the scared. When she’s in Vilette, she affects the lives of the other patients in ways neither she nor they expect, and discovers a whole new side to her world when she allows herself to do things she’s never done before. She realises that in dying, she’s free and that she can do as she pleases; in doing so, she finds a happiness she’s never had before.

Veronika is one of the sweetest female protagonists I’ve read in a while: she’s honest and sincere and expressive and very easy to love. I couldn’t identify with her, per se, and I dare say that that’s a good thing, but I certainly enjoyed reading about her. The other ‘patients’ in the hospital are equally engaging, and just as damaged as Veronika. Even the head psychiatrist, who employs questionable rehabilitative methods, isn’t someone you could really dislike. In all, they provide an intriguing group to spend some time with, and I was sorry to see them go when I finished.

Coelho delivered his usual message about the meaning of life, etc., but I preferred to concentrate on enjoying his characters. There’s hope for him yet, I think, although I might leave it a while until I read something else from him. I don’t want Veronika ruined for me just yet.

— — — — —

Tomorrow’s going to be all manner of impossible and frustrating. I have five different things to attend/ people to see in between ten and half three, and aside from lunch with a friend, I can’t be bothered with any of them.

10 responses to “Veronika Decides to Die – review

  1. I thought that I read a lot of books, then I started reading your book reviews and in comparison now feel that my efforts are somewhat amateurish!

  2. Ick – hate days like that, when everybody wants a piece of you and you can’t face any of it. Are you any good at faking illness?

  3. I didn’t read all of this post – as I wanted to skip any spoilers in case I read it, but I had the same feelings of The Alchemist. I read it about 3 years ago on the back of seeing most people on the tube reading it, and hearing how great it was – and it really did disappoint me. All I got from it was the feeling the sheep following him around would look great if they made a cartoon version of it – which I’m not sure is what the author would want people to take from this book.

    I may try another one sometime, but as with other authors – reading one book just puts me off the others (DaVinci Code – for example; and in some respects Oracle Night or whatever it was by Auster).


  4. Murphyz, you’re only the second person to tell me that (my cousin also hated it although her sister lives her life by it!). I’m sure lots of people hated The Alchemist, mind you.

    Try another one – you might as well. I will never read another Brown, but I love Auster.

  5. I actually like Dan Brown for those Sundays when all you want to do is read an easy novel while sipping tea on a cosy chair.

  6. I can see why it would have that appeal, indeed, but I’ve build up a deep hatred of it now. Probably because I tell anyone who’ll listen exactly how much I despise it and I work myself up quite a lot by doing so!

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