Title: Manuscript Found in Accra
Author: Paulo Coelho
208 pages, Published by Knopf
Buy The Book: Amazon
There is nothing wrong with anxiety.
Although we cannot control God’s time, it is part of the human condition to want to receive the thing we are waiting for as quickly as possible.
Or to drive away whatever is causing our fear. . . .
Anxiety was born in the very same moment as mankind. And since we will never be able to master it, we will have to learn to live with it—just as we have learned to live with storms.
* * *
July 14, 1099. Jerusalem awaits the invasion of the crusaders who have surrounded the city’s gates. There, inside the ancient city’s walls, men and women of every age and every faith have gathered to hear the wise words of a mysterious man known only as the Copt. He has summoned the townspeople to address their fears with truth:
“Tomorrow, harmony will become discord. Joy will be replaced by grief. Peace will give way to war. . . . None of us can know what tomorrow will hold, because each day has its good and its bad moments. So, when you ask your questions, forget about the troops outside and the fear inside. Our task is not to leave a record of what happened on this date for those who will inherit the Earth; history will take care of that. Therefore, we will speak about our daily lives, about the difficulties we have had to face.”
The people begin with questions about defeat, struggle, and the nature of their enemies; they contemplate the will to change and the virtues of loyalty and solitude; and they ultimately turn to questions of beauty, love, wisdom, sex, elegance, and what the future holds. “What is success?” poses the Copt. “It is being able to go to bed each night with your soul at peace.”
* * *
Now, these many centuries later, the wise man’s answers are a record of the human values that have endured throughout time. And, in Paulo Coelho’s hands, The Manuscript Found in Accra reveals that who we are, what we fear, and what we hope for the future come from the knowledge and belief that can be found within us, and not from the adversity that surrounds us. (Summary provided by Knopf.)
I’ve heard of Paulo Coehlo from friends over the years. Many of these friends love his novel The Alchemist, and I’ve always had it on my TBR list. When I was approached with the chance to review his latest novel, Manuscript Found in Accra I was really excited, because I’ve heard so many great things about this author.
Unfortunately, once I started reading, the excitement I initially felt about the book gradually diminished. Manuscript Found in Accra begins with a four page preface and a six page chapter which lay the groundwork for the rest of the book. Basically, the book contains questions and answers between the people of Jerusalem and a wise citizen known as the Copt on the eve of Jerusalem being invaded by French crusaders in the year 1099. The purpose for the manuscript of questions and answers is so that knowledge of the way of life for citizens of Jerusalem in 1099 will live on for future generations. The citizens take turns asking the Copt questions of a philosophical nature and the Copt answers them. There is no traditional plot.
Manuscript Found in Accra reads like a fictional Deepak Chopra book. It has lots of really interesting thoughts from the Copt regarding a variety of topics such as defeat, solitude, beauty, love, sex, and anxiety. The prose is deep and at times beautiful, but it is totally not what I was expecting when I picked up the book. I was expecting a novel with all of the elements a typical work of fiction might have: character development, plot, rising action, climax, etc. Some might say we should praise this work for being different and veering from the path of traditional fiction. I’m not against non-traditional fiction at all. This particular novel just doesn’t work for me as a reader.
I’ve read lots of glowing reviews of this book, and I have no doubt fans of Coehlo will enjoy Manuscript Found in Accra. I also think readers who enjoy books by philosophers will devour Manuscript Found in Accra. It is evident from reading this novel that Coehlo is a highly intellectual and talented writer. However, the presentation of the Copt’s wisdom in a question and answer format is a bit too sparse for me.
I have a question for fans of Paulo Coehlo who have read both Manuscript Found in Accra and The Alchemist: Do you think I might enjoy The Alchemist? I really want to give Coehlo another chance.
Check out the previous stops of the Manuscript Found in Accra TLC Book Tour:
Monday, March 18th: Patricia’s Wisdom
Monday, March 25th: Book Club Classics
Tuesday, March 26th: Mom in Love with Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received a free copy of the book for review from TLC Book Tours, and I make a small commission off of any purchases made by clicking through the Amazon links on this site.
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