Veronika Decides to Die – Book Review

I had forbidden myself from reading for a long time. Each of the occasions I had opened a book, I had my reasons not to pursue the read; each time I blamed the ever demanding corporate life for not discovering those treasures. Last month over a series of travel for official purpose, surprisingly I read three books written by three different authors in their distinguished narrative style and should say; I enjoyed every bit of it. This is an earnest endeavor to live through the eyes of Paulo Coelho and elucidate my journey through the book – Veronika Decides to Die.

Veronika Decides to Die
Veronika Decides to Die

Death is inevitable; but Veronika a 24 year old beautiful Slovenian girl decides to inexplicably take vitriol unto her death. She leaves a note stating that no one knows her country Slovenia; not a reason compelling enough to be accepted by the society. Her attempted act of cowardice fails and she opens her eyes in a mental asylum after several days of unconsciousness in the intensive care unit.  Dr. Igor who is the head doctor in Villete – the lunatic asylum; manages to recover her, but vitriol damages her heart permanently and death becomes imminent in a weeks’ time.

In her last few days of life, she meets with Zedka, Mari and Eduard who are the other inmates of Villete. On discovering the awareness of death; she inculcates a tremendous will to live. She plays piano for Eduard a schizophrenic patient at the same time a painter who wanted to paint Visions of Paradise, which his parents never let him do. He never spoke nor ate. His unconventional paintings and methods land him in Villete. Veronika falls in love with Eduard and his silence. She provokes him to make love with her, but ends up masturbating in front of him. She was confident that; in a mental asylum no one could question her, because she was mad.

Mari, who is a lawyer by profession, suffers from panic attacks of extreme fear. Her husband demands a divorce because he no longer could adjust with her unconventional ways of living. She comfortably finds an exile in Villete away from the so called society and Dr. Igor let her continue her stay in there.  Zedka has a family but she falls into deep depression where she falls in love with her ex-lover.

Veronika’s presence in Villete and her love for life, paves way for self-realization for Zedka, Mari and Eduard. Zedka gets discharged and Mari brings an abrupt end to her; self-imposed exile in Villete. Eduard and Veronika finally decide to leave Villete on the night Veronika was expected to die. They leave Villete and Veronika finally finds peace in his arms.

David Gregory Roberts, the author of “Shantaram” has described freedom beautifully. Would love to re-iterate his words – It took me a long time and most of the world to learn what I know about love and fate and the choices we make, but the heart of it came to me in an instant, while I was chained to a wall and being tortured. I realized, somehow, through the screaming in my mind, that even in that shackled, bloody helplessness, I was still free: free to hate the men who were torturing me, or to forgive them.”

Paulo Coelho takes us through a mental asylum with ease, with simplicity of his language and he has diplomatically questioned the conventional methods of the society, without hurting the sentiments of many. Highly inspirational and teaches to accept life the way it is and truly liberating.

There is madness to this book, but then who is not? Are you and I sane?