Biographies are difficult to review – no matter how good the biographer’s writing might be, the success of the book really depends on how interesting the subject of the biography is. Fortunately for Fernando Morais and the reader, Paulo Coelho has evidently had a far more eventful life than the average person. The first half of the book, which dealt with Coelho’s early life, was fascinating although I found I started to lose interest nearer the end.
Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1947. As a teenager he was a rebel who performed badly at school and was constantly getting into trouble, insisting that all he wanted to do was read and write. His parents, not knowing what else to do with him, sent him to a psychiatric clinic where he was given electroshock therapy. Paulo later began experimenting with drugs and became involved in black magic. In 1974, he was arrested and imprisoned after being accused of subversive activities against the Brazilian government. His life reached a turning point in 1986, when he went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, a journey that inspired one of his first major books, The Pilgrimage. Today, Coelho is one of the world’s most popular authors and has sold over 100 million copies worldwide.
Many biographers (particularly the authors of unauthorised biographies) allow their own opinions and speculations to get in the way of the facts – Fernando Morais does not do this. The book was written with the full cooperation of Paulo Coelho and Morais writes in a professional, factual style. He was given full access to Coelho’s diaries which date back to his teenage years, though he repeatedly points out that Coelho tended to fantasize in his diary entries and therefore we can’t place too much reliance on them. However, the inclusion of the diary entries, along with other fragments of Coelho’s writing, gives us a better insight into his mind.
Morais looks at every stage of Coelho’s life in so much depth it’s obvious that he spent a lot of time researching the book thoroughly. He provides a complete list of all the people he interviewed during his research including some of Paulo’s friends, family members and former girfriends. Some of Coelho’s fans may be disappointed and disillusioned as he is often portrayed in a bad light, but as the biography was published with Coelho’s blessing, he was obviously happy for us to read about the negative aspects of his character as well as the positive.
A Warrior’s Life was an interesting book to read, despite the fact that before beginning it I knew almost nothing about Paulo Coelho. I received a review copy from LibraryThing Early Reviewers and was glad to have an opportunity to read a biography I would probably never have read otherwise.
Genre: Non-Fiction (Biography)/Pages: 496/Publisher: Harper Collins/Year: 2009/Source: Received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers