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The Winner Stands Alone – Paulo Coelho

If you read this book, please let me know your impressions as I was a little disappointed by it. I rushed to borrow this book from my friend as I read some of Coelho’s work and was impressed (the latest one – Brida). I will start with the things I really liked:

The novel is structured in a time frame of 24 hours. The main story is a love triangle: Igor, Ewa and Hamid. The action starts early in the morning in CannesFrance with the arrival of a Russian business man – Igor. He is looking for his ex-wife, Ewa. She is currently married to a fashion designer – Hamid. Ewa discovered that her husband was abusing his power, financial and physical; he decided the life and death of other people. She decides that he is dangerous, leaves him and marries Hamid. Igor arrives to the Film Festival – Cannes Film Festival  withe the clear idea: to get his wife back, no matter the costs, even sacrificing human lives. He has been in the Afghan war and knows several killing tricks. Igor starts to kill random people in order to let his wife know that he is there and that he is ready to take her back. I must give Coelho the credit for creating this character: Igor has a very complex profile and it reminds me of Raskolnikov (from Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky). Igor is sure that he survived the war for a reason: he is special, he has a special connection with the Holly spirit and all that he does is approved by it, doesn’t matter it is bad or good. He confuses the notions of Evil and Good and acts as he likes.

This main story is intertwined with several others: the one of the model Jasmine, of the movie distributor – Javits , of the actress Gabrielle and others. The novel presents the world of “Superclass”: models, actors, successful people. The author presents this world as it is: fake, confusing and cold. He presents the version that we see in magazines and TV and then the actual truth. It explains very well the power games that place everywhere in the world, in fashion, business, art, cinematography… He presents the mentality of the normal people towards the cult of celebrity,  the obsessions of fake celebrity, the trap of fame, money and power.

I also noticed how crazy international the novel is: the location is Cannes, France; the characters are: Russians, (Igor and Ewa), Arabic (Hamid), American (Gabrielle), African (Jasmine) and they are all influences by their homelands; Of course, at the Festival there are celebrities from all the world; This suggests that this obsession with Superclass and glamour is a global issue.

The end is unexpected: Igor is hallucinating that his fist victim is always besides him supporting and encouraging  him, not like his wife, who left him. He has a change of hearth and decide to get revenge instead of love from his ex-wife.

What I liked less: the style is quite simplistic. The author doesn’t go deeper in the stories and often everything is explained, absolutely everything. I read somewhere that Coelho presented a photographic story of our current times and this would probably explain why he decided to include just bits of stories, hints of situations and characters. In the end it was an entertaining book and a good read.

August 22, 2012 Posted by | Book reviews | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment


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