For the most part, I loved this. It read like a fairy tale (at least in my head) from the first page, the illustrations are charming, the paper and foFor the most part, I loved this. It read like a fairy tale (at least in my head) from the first page, the illustrations are charming, the paper and fonts are magnificent, and the cover is striking.
The "moral" of the story is that the universe conspires to help you achieve your dreams. This is done through omens, luck, faith... but one thing I like is that, while I have a hunch of what faith Coelho believes in, it's not forced upon the reader. If you believe in Jesus, there's that; if you believe in Allah, he's there to help you; if you don't have a religion, the universe is there to help. So the book/story/characters don't say that ONLY Jesus can help you with your goals or ONLY Allah or ONLY whoever. Each character has his faith in *something* that helps him get where he's going. (Okay, so it does get a little God-centric sometimes, but it's not throughout the whole book, and you can easily replace "God" with something else, like "fate" or "destiny" or "the universe.") ... Okay, maybe the parable does start to seem a little preachy toward the end, talking about love transforming us, etc. But that could either be interpreted as spiritual love or romantic love (falling in love with someone makes you better, makes you want to be better, etc.), so the parable can still avoid preaching, if you want to read it that way. ...Until the end, where it becomes outright "Yay, God!" But you can just ignore that, or replace it with "Universe!" like I did.
Similarly, there's the thought that there's a universal language, not necessarily a verbal language. Is it through signs? Science? Feelings? Everyone has their own idea of how and why this universal language works, and while your interpretation of it might not be the same as mine, we both understand the universal language.
And nobody gets bummed by defeat or setbacks. There isn't even such a thing as defeat or setbacks: just new, unplanned-for adventures. It sounds like a lovely way to live.
You could definitely call this a "spiritual" book, but if you have an open mind (and some creative Find/Replace functions in your head :) ), it doesn't have to be strictly that. I don't usually like "spiritual" or preachy books, but this didn't feel overly spiritual to me, at least not until toward the end. In my head, it read as a nice fairy tale that could have been about any higher power: sure, it could be God, but also the universe, or fate/destiny, etc. Anything that guides us (either as a guide like "Let me show you" or as a driving force) that we don't understand....more
Surprisingly, this wasn't a bad book (You don't have to agree with the sentiment to think a book is decently written). Dixon calls this a "historicalSurprisingly, this wasn't a bad book (You don't have to agree with the sentiment to think a book is decently written). Dixon calls this a "historical romance of the Ku Klux Klan," and it definitely is written as a romance, with very flowery language and dialogue at times that is almost phony. The events were often overly melodramatic, too. That said, it was a page-turner for me. Flowery and melodramatic, yes, but decent story.
As I read the opening sections of this, I was surprised Dixon made Lincoln sound like such a good/nice guy. I would have thought a book written as a defense/explanation of the KKK would portray him as a villain.
I was reading at one point, thinking to myself, "Huh, nearly halfway through, and this is a pretty even-handed book. Pros and cons for both North and South. I'm surprised." But then not 10 minutes later, "drunken negroes," with their "onion-laden breath" and "African odour"... So nevermind about it being fair and even-handed. The way Dixon describes some of the black characters is also questionable. At times it's hard to tell whether he's being very descriptive about one particular character or if he's making generalizations about the physical and mental traits of *all* black people. ... But then we have the "negro odour" again and similar comments ("animal odour," "imaginary horrors of slavery," "laziness and incapacity of the negro"), and I think he's just racist (although, at the time this was written, that wasn't considered racist, etc. etc, cultural relativity and whatnot).
And for a "romance of the Ku Klux Klan," the Klan doesn't really come until towards the end. This is more about the aftermath of the Civil War and Reconstruction, not so much about the KKK. Yes, it's all tied together, but from the title and subtitle, I expected way more of the Klan in the story....more