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Low Country Hardcover – June 23, 1998

7,656 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A Siddons heroine of a familiar stripe, Caroline Aubrey Venable battles adversity and despair to save her South Carolina island in a somewhat unwieldy novel that again shows us a woman maturing under pressure. The death of her daughter five years earlier still shadows Caroline's life, and her occasional overindulgence in alcohol is something neither she nor her husband of 25 years will discussAso long as Caroline continues dutifully to play "mother superior" to the junior partners of her husband Clay's land-developing empire. When rumor comes to light that Clay's company plans to turn their low country home into a theme parkAthreatening the wild ponies that Caroline loves, not to mention the Gullahs who have lived there for centuriesACaroline is roused from her stupor. The leisurely pace and evocative atmospheric background of Siddons's fiction are in evidence here, and the confiding tone of this first-person narrative of betrayal and redemption offers few surprises. Some readers, however, may find Caroline annoyingly self-absorbed; may question why she doesn't object more strenuously when Luis CassellsAone of the islandersAcharacterizes Clay as "Mengele"; may find Siddons's depiction of Luis as a Cuban-Jewish Don Quixote improbable; may take umbrage at Caroline's patronization of the Gullahs; and may agree that the climax, while surprising, makes for a pat denouement. $250,000 ad/promo; U.K. rights to Little, Brown; first serial and dramatic rights: Virginia Barber; audio rights: HarperAudio; translation rights: HarperCollins; author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Fans will find some familiar elements here: a sympathetic Southern heroine, an unlikely love interest, and a South Carolina low country setting fragrant with salt air. Caro Venable is a captivating mix of beauty queen, drunk, artist, dutiful corporate wife, and mother still grieving her daughter's drowning. Her love of Peacock's Island clashes with her developer husband's plans to subdivide her grandfather's land and turn its native tribal settlement into a "theme park." Caro is also tempted by a wild, rebellious Cuban botanist who shares her love for the unspoiled island. The novel ends with a circle of completeness: a corrupt husband returning to his decent self, a wife returning to her husband's love, an orphaned child filling the void left by a girl's death, and the island saved from development. Readers of Siddons's other books (Up Island, HarperCollins, 1997) will not be disappointed.
-?Carol J. Bissett, Dittlinger Memorial Lib., New Braunfels, TX
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 290 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Collins; 1st edition (June 23, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060176164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060176167
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7,656 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,439 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1,774 of 1,876 people found the following review helpful By Kenny O. on March 1, 2003
Format: Paperback
Yes, much of what negative reviewers of this book have to say is true: the writing is blunt and simple, the characters lack depth and complexity, it is quite male-focused in its subject matter and language, it has a bunch of quasi-religious mumbo-jumbo, and so on. This book should not be put on the list of great literature for the ages. There are doubtless many novels that cover subject matter from this book far more artfully. As I read the book, I was aware of its hokeyness and lack of redeeming literary qualities. I am, in fact, usually the first person to criticize books that read like this.
And yet, I have to say - and I feel a bit sheepish about this - that I found it meaningful, even profound at times. How can I say this, given my criticisms? First of all, unlike many reviewers, I did not approach this book with great expectations. No one told me that this was Shakespeare or Tolstoy; I had never even heard of it until it was recommended to me recently. And by the end of page 2, I had adjusted my expectations further. This clearly was not going to be winning the Booker prize.
But I found the book moving in its simple way. The characters deliver their statements without subtlety, but subtlety is more a literary virtue than a philosophical one. In fact, I essentially came to view this work as a life philosophy expressed as a fable, so I didn't particularly mind that its messages were not buried far beneath the surface.
Are those messages novel? No, but what of it? Novelists have been recycling themes for centuries, becuase many themes are of enduring interest and relevance. The point is, the messages are worthwhile and deserving of consideration.
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493 of 545 people found the following review helpful By Robert Anderson on March 12, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I checked this book out from the library, but I'm going to buy a copy and re-read it at regular intervals.

I read it over the course of one day, thought "nice fable" & began reading another book as soon as I finished this one. But I found that the lessons contained in this simple story of a shepherd boy seeking treasure, won't be dismissed so easily. They must have taken up residence in my subconscious and kicked up some dust, because my mind keeps returning to the lessons of the story to find new and more subtle insights having formed.

These are lessons that we all know in our hearts, but that we forget as we get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of our material lives. Lessons about listening to our hearts and following our dreams. Lessons about living in the moment, the transient nature of possessions and the illusion that we can even "possess" something to begin with. Lessons about freeing ourselves from fear and about understanding our lives as part of the energy of the Universe and understanding that everything will work out the way it was intended to. Lessons about trusting in signs, knowing that our lives have a grand purpose and that the forces of the Universe will conspire to help us fulfill that purpose. And the lesson that all of the fortunes and misfortunes we encounter in life are part of our spiritual education, and that it's not the earthly "treasure" we seek that's important but the lessons learned while in pursuit of it.

If you like to ponder the meaning of life, then let your mind and spirit mull over the lessons in this book. It's a quick and enjoyable read that will provide some new insights, or remind you of some old one's that you've forgotten.
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312 of 360 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Joseph VINE VOICE on June 21, 2006
Format: Paperback
More parable than novel, "The Alchemist" uses the story of young shepherd Santiago's search for his Personal Legend as an allegory for everyman's struggle to break from the comfortable confines of conformity and pursue his life dreams. Along the way, of course, our young everyman is beset by all manner of setbacks, testing his resolve and forcing him to become attuned to the Soul of the World in order to survive. By paying attention to the details in the world around him, which serve as omens guiding him towards his goal, young Santiago becomes an alchemist in his own right, spinning unfavorable circumstances into riches.

Aside from the ubiquitous theme about the power of perseverance, my favorite part of the book was its glorification of simplicity. Like the pared-down manner in which the story is presented, Santiago's rare ability to get in touch with the Soul of the World comes not from the procedures described in arcane tomes pursued by traditional alchemists, but rather from a simple honesty and observance of the workings of the world. While the lack of character or plot complexity precludes this minimalist work from being considered a great novel, it will be a satisfying read for those seeking inspiration of the purest sort.

-Kevin Joseph, author of "The Champion Maker"
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182 of 209 people found the following review helpful By Anthony T. Riggio on October 26, 2012
Format: Paperback
October 26, 2012
A review of the Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This review is written by Anthony T. Riggio. After reading the above book, given to me by my youngest sister, as a gift, during a recent visit, I promised her I would read it. My sister, who suffers from a mental illness, said the book had impacted her and thought it a spiritual work. Mental illness is certainly a stigma in our society but I have come to see it as a blessing by God to allow my sister to see things in an unvarnished way. She has lost everything and lives a most simple life in a therapeutic family care environment. She lives there because neither of her siblings are ill prepared to handle things when the chemical unbalance occurs, which it inevitably happens at the unscheduled moments.

Even in her limited world, she has been able to see the spiritual where most of us cannot. That she spent the full publisher's price infuriated me but then I stopped to think about the genuineness of her generosity and love she has for her older brother, I decided to graciously accept her gift.
The Alchemist is a simple story which some might refer to as a fable. It is however the story of a boy, Santiago, who search for the meaning of a dream which hopes to lead him to a treasure. It is the story of one finding his/her Personal Legend (roughly destiny and/or meaning for life).

The book emphasizes the reason for each living in the now as opposed to one's past or future. This is often a difficult task but a profound spiritual experience when fully accomplished because in that now moment we experience ourselves and get a glimpse of God. This book however is not a religious book because as the author advised religion provides the discipline for the community experience in its devotion to God.
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