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Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho
Translated from the Portuguese by Margaret Jull Costa
Published by Harper Collins 1998

Veronika has everything she could wish for – young and pretty, with plenty of boyfriends, a steady job, a loving family. Yet she is not happy and one winter’s morning she takes an overdose of sleeping pills, only to wake up some time later in Villette – the "famous and much-feared lunatic asylum". There she is told that although she is alive, her heart is now irreparably damaged and she only has a few days to live.

This story follows her through these intense days as she starts to question all her ideas about life. She starts to see her past relationships much more clearly and understand why she felt her life had no meaning. To her surprise, she finds herself drawn into the enclosed world of Villette and to become interested in the other patients who have been sent there because there doesn’t seem to be any other place for them as they can’t adjust to the social structure that doesn’t tolerate their individuality. Coelho poses the question of who is mad and who is sane in this world. The protective walls of the hospital allow the patients to explore their “madness” without criticism or harm. Veronika’s predicament forces each of them to reflect on their own situations, exposing new desires and fresh vision for life that lies outside the asylum’s walls.

This is a moving and uplifting song to life, one that reminds us that every moment in our lives is special and precious.

"Coelho's writing is beautifully poetic … He gives me hope and puts a smile on my face". The Express

"The global bestseller The Alchemist established Coelho's reputation and Veronika is sure to reaffirm it … intensely poetic … this is a powerful and unsettling reminder that we must always 'seize the day'". Time Out

Paulo Coelho was born in Brazil. His books, translated into 56 languages, have not only topped the bestseller lists, but have gone on to become the subject of social and cultural debate. At the age of seventeen, Coelho's parents had him committed to a mental hospital – the first of three such committals. Extracts from Veronika Decides to Die were read at a plenary session that led to the passing of a law prohibiting arbitrary hospitalisation in Brazil.

By the same author:
The Alchemist
By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept
The Devil and Miss Prym
The Fifth Mountain
Manual of the Warrior of the Light
The Pilgrimage
The Valkyries

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