Review: Paulo Coelho’s ‘Adultery’ and Lauren Manning’s ‘Unmeasured Strength’

Book Review Singapore

Completed reading 2 of the books I got at the recent Books Warehouse Sale, which is still ON till this Sunday by the way. I’m not sure how YOU pick out books (maybe read a chapter first?) but I chose these two simply because one was written by “Paulo Coelho” and the other was also a “New York Times Bestseller”. Turns out I hit literary gold with them. 😀 And yes, these are available for the box sale for S$50. So you can stuff a box full of books (maybe 20+ titles?) and each copy will only cost about S$2 or less. It’s ridiculously cheap. As an author myself, my heart bleeds a little. As a reader, I’m over the moon.


Here’s my (short) review of the two books:

Adultery by Paulo Coelho

It’s quite interesting how a male author writes from the point of view of a married woman committing adultery. Strangely enough, it’s rather convincing. I think this book might speak to many people. How come some people seem to have it all (an awesome spouse and I mean nothing sexual by this, a beautiful family, a great career, etc) and yet feel “depressed” or sad without having a legit reason to feel that way? And how many can resist the urge of keeping BOTH a stable, loving relationship AND a thrilling, sexually-satisfying affair by the side? Variety is the spice of life, no? And what causes women to lose their senses when they think they’re in love with a guy (whom, on hindsight, appears to be the kind you should flee from, and not run towards)? How can you live with the guilt of having NOT confessed to your husband about the affair you were involved in, simply because he seems to know (and he seemingly says so) and tells you he still loves you the same? After ten years of marriage, how does one keep the spark (or dying embers) alive? Are couples simply staying together for the sake of the children, and nothing else? This book makes readers think, question, and also face up to their own myriad temptations, desires, fears, and expectations. A short book but it’s a thought-provoking one, for sure.

Also, did you note that there are three cherries on the cover? Cute. 😉 Two are ‘facing’ each other, with a third party off to the side.

Unmeasured Strength by Lauren Manning

I didn’t actually pay much attention to the cover picture when I picked out this book. But if you’ll look closely, you’ll see that Lauren’s left hand is hidden behind her back, and there’s uneven coloration of her skin. The fact that she’s in a red dress and heels doesn’t seem out of the ordinary until you read her story and realize that this woman nearly lost her life during the Sept 11 terror attacks. She suffered burns on 82% of her body. And it took many years, an immeasurable amount of pain and equal parts courage for her to get her life back on track. This book made me cry… and cry again. It’s not just a recollection of what happened during that fateful day, it’s also her memoir. She got married once, and got divorced when the first marriage didn’t work out. And when she finally found Greg, the marriage wasn’t going as smoothly as they’d wanted. A heated quarrel, and a neighbor’s (unrelated) phonecall stopped Greg from being in the same building that morning. A situation involving missing keys at their weekend home caused Lauren to head to her office later than usual, hence she had not yet taken the lift up to her office when the terrorists struck. If she had been upstairs, she’d most certainly have perished like the 658 colleagues in her company who died that day. If Greg had also been at an event he wanted to go to, their ten-month-old child would have become an orphan.

Likewise, she recounts an incident from her childhood in which she was ahead of her sister running (accidentally) into a wasp nest. She got stung everywhere but some calamine lotion managed to do the trick. Her sister didn’t get even a single sting. Later on, it was discovered that her sister was highly allergic to bee stings, and if Lauren had not pushed ahead of her sister (to show who’s the eldest, i.e. the ‘boss’), Gigi might have been in serious trouble.

What I take away from this book is that when God’s hand is over your life, it doesn’t mean there will be no suffering. In fact, there might be tons of it. You might be stung from head to toe, but it means your sister’s life is spared and your family remains intact. It might also mean that you get burnt beyond recognition, yet you get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reconnect with family and long-lost-yet-treasured friends. Lauren once thought she had it all and could do it all. Then the terrorists struck and she almost lost it all. Only after that could she truly begin to understand what it means to have it all. Her husband’s love for her is really commendable. Lauren herself writes that other men might have bolted, but Greg remained steadfast.

I’ve always wanted to ask God why good people suffer while bad people seem to thrive. But now I am beginning to understand. Sometimes that suffering happens for one’s own good, for God’s purpose in your life to be fulfilled. Without going through all that unimaginable and horrific pain and suffering, and not witnessing Greg’s steadfast presence and committed love through it all, Lauren’s (second) marriage might not be as strong. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended in divorce, assuming the terrorist attack on 9/11 never happened. Indeed, everything happens for a reason and it’s only by looking back that we can begin to connect the dots.

Read this book, but prepare some tissue first.