Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Book Review: The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho

The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho

Published by HarperCollins Publishers

Rating: 3.5 stars

BROWSE INSIDE the beginning of this book!!

The Winner Stands Alone takes place at the Cannes Film Festival among the world of film and fashion. Igor, a misguided yet very successful businessman, is pursuing his ex-wife Ewa in the hope of rekindling their romance. Igor believes that he must "destroy whole worlds" to win back her affection and he is willing to do anything for her. The book also features the tales of of different characters weaved in together, who all serve a function amidst the film festival: producers, actors, designers and supermodels. This story shows us the dark side of what can become if everyone would give in to temptation and seek out hedonism at all costs.

Best known for his renowned book The Alchemist, Paulo Coelho is an extremely talented writer. I had high hopes for this latest novel and was intrigued by the exciting setting. The Cannes Film Festival is always filled with glamorous and important people and getting an inside glimpse into that world is a lot of fun. The problem for me was that none of the characters seemed very real or made any impression upon me. They felt a little two-dimensional and lacked any real authenticity.

The most interesting aspect of the book is that all of the action-filled plot occurs over twenty-four hours. There is a lot of action, not to mention murder, that transpires as each hour passes by. For the most part my attention was captured until the very end and even if I wasn't too invested in any of the characters, I needed to see how it would finish.

What strikes me most about the book is morality or rather the lack of morality coming into play. Igor feels justified in murdering innocent people to 'prove' his love for Ewa, despite that having no effect whatsoever. This blurring of ethics is the common thread throughout the novel and I would have liked to see it explored further and I especially longed for some sort of conclusion to have been drawn.

Overall, The Winner Stands Alone has an interesting storyline and plenty of adrenaline-filled action but in my opinion, the characters were not developed enough for a proper execution of the plot. What really saves this novel is Coelho's wonderful writing style and vivid descriptions of Cannes that capture just the right ambience.

BIG THANKS to Deanna and HarperCollins Canada for my review copy


bermudaonion said...

It sounds like the book didn't live up to its potential. Too bad.

TexasRed said...

I love Cohelo's early books, but had to take a break from the last couple. Sounds like this is very different from his other books as far as pacing and setting. Could be interesting to check out.

Sheila DeChantal said...

I have not read anything by this author yet although The Alchemist waits for me on the bookshelf....

Tanya Nel said...

I'm a huge fan of Coelho's previous books. His latest was a huge disappointment - in fact, I didn't even get halfway when I decided to put it down. It was a waste of my money. Giving it 3,5 is an undeserved compliment. It's long-winded, dull, and almost seems like it's been written by someone completely different. Next time I'll first read reviews before buying his upcoming books.

Unknown said...

I just finished the book. I thought it to be disappointing.
As rightly mentioned by reviewer the characters seem unreal. It is rivetting in the beginning but somehow loses the purpose.It doesn't make an impact. It makes you believe there is only dirt in the showbusiness. May be that could be true.

Anonymous said...

I have read many of Coelho books but I didn't really enjoy them. I think the plot was booring, although it conteined many wise things. This book is absolutely different and may be becaus of that I liked it very much. :)

Jen Adams Juan said...

In my own way, I resonated with some of the characters of the book. I know for a fact how messy the world of showbiz is and I'm just glad I was able to stop myself when I still can.

I love the book! It may not be like the other Paolo Coelho books I've read but this one is definitely a star. :-)

Sathish said...

I am a fan of Cohelo, Alchemist and few others were truly inspiring. But Winner Stands alone is grossly incomplete. None of the characters are justified, nor any pointers to "follow your dream" which is the usual line in his books. Disappointed and confused. May be a good reference book for how Cannes functions!!