Aside from The Alchemist, this is Paulo Coelho’s best book so far. He has, very skillfully, combined concepts from a lot of his previous works. The concept of journey (The Pilgrimage), of a witch (… Portobello), of slightly unconnected events (Like a Flowing River) have all been mingled. But this time, the plot is more real, he travels with people and not angels, he is on the Trans-Siberian railway instead of some wild goose chase along some ancient Spanish trail, and he deals with firmer things than intangible obstacles.
Another plus point is the description of the railway journey and the landscape of Russia. I like books that can do that, take me to place when I read them. The serenity of Lake Baikal, the mysteries of past lives, the intensity of physical urges; this book explores all of these things. Initially, the first 20 pages or so, I remarked to V that he’s doing the same old things again… but it wasn’t so. Read it, it’s good.
Quote: ‘I love you,’ I tell her. ‘I love you because all the loves in the world are like different rivers flowing into the same lake, where they meet and are transformed into a single love that becomes rain and blesses the earth.
‘I love you like a river that gives water to the thirsty and takes people where they want to go. ‘I love you like a river which understands that it must learn to flow differently over waterfalls and to rest in the shallows. ‘I love you because we are all born in the same place, at the same source, which keeps us provided with a constant supply of water. And so, when we feel weak, all we have to do is wait a little.
The spring returns, the winter snows melt and fill us with new energy. ‘I receive your love and I give you mine. “Not the love of a man for a woman, not the love of a father for a child, not the love of God for his creatures.
“But a love with no name and no explanation‘Like a river that cannot explain why it follows a particular course, but simply flows onwards. ‘A love that asks for nothing and gives nothing in return; it is simply there. I will never be yours and you will never be mine; nevertheless, I can honestly say: I love you.’