Audiobook Review: The Winner Stands Alone by Paulo Coelho

June 24, 2009

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 author. I had high hopes for this latest book 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 book 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 book 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

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