Seeing as this is my first blog, I should tell you that two of my favorite things in life are my husband and children. Haha! I almost spit out my wine! Seriously, they are amazing, but what I really live for are books and wine, and there is nothing better than pairing the two, crisp pages and a crisp Pinot Grigio. For example, right now I am reading a book recommended to me by a customer service agent from my health insurance company. How did that happen, you ask? Well, I called to ask a question about my benefits, and the conversation went something like this.
“Good morning, this is Igor. How may I help you.” He said with an accent that I could not place.
“Hi, Igor. I have a benefits question. Can you help me with that?”
He said that he could and asked for my name and identification number. I expected him to ask for another piece of identifying information like my date of birth, or my address, but instead there was a long pause and then a quiet question, “Veronica, do you like to read?”
“Of course, I like to read. What kind of question is that?” I answered quickly, taking offense but still intrigued by his question. “Why?”
“There is a book that you must read. It is called, Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho. I read it and loved it, and I think you will, too.”
Not sure how to take this from my health insurer, I got my answers from Igor and assured him that I would look for the book although that wasn’t necessarily the truth. Who takes a book recommendation from the slightly creepy customer service guy? I did not recognize the author’s name at the time, but Coelho is an accomplished author, probably best know for The Alchemist.
Days went by, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Dammit, Igor! I had to know what the magic in this book was. So I hopped on Amazon and searched out a copy. Fortunately, I was able to find a used copy for under five dollars. I didn’t want to spend a lot just in case Igor was leading me astray.
When I read, I like to have a glass of wine which I try to make as much of an adventure as the story. Since the author Paulo Coelho is Brazilian, I decided to try a bottle from that region for the first time. Better known for soccer than viticulture, Brazil has made strides in their wine production since the mid-19th century when new varietals were introduced. I found several wines that looked interesting, but I had a hard time finding an authentic bottle from Brazil. My local wine store kept trying to push Argentina or Chile, but I held my ground and left with a bottle of Lidio Carraro, Chardonnay. I am not a fan of chardonnay, but I had my heart set on enjoying this book with an authentic Brazilian (and if I couldn’t have that, I would settle for the wine.) I was told that this bold white from “Da’divas,” Serra Gaucha, Brazil, 2010 is an intense wine with the aroma of daisies and notes of pineapple.
Now ready to cleanse my palate with a new wine and a new book, I set out to answer the question, why do I go on living?
The protagonist, Veronika, a young woman in her twenties seems to have it all. She is gorgeous, loves her job and her family; she has plenty of suitors, but something is missing. Something so big that she believes she will never be able to find it. So, she takes matters into her own hands and takes a handful of sleeping pills to end it all. End of the story? No such luck for Veronika.
She wakes up in a local mental hospital only to find that the drugs didn’t kill her, but they have caused so much damage to her heart that she only has a few days left on this earth, which leads her to learn more about herself in those few days than in the last twenty-four years. She allows herself to feel, really feel, for the first time and this journey leads her to a new love for life. I won’t give away the ending, but I hope she got to try this Chardonnay. As I mentioned earlier, Chardonnay is my least favorite type of wine, but any wine is better than no wine and the Da’divas is better than most.
I think that Igor (the customer service rep) found beauty in the fact that Veronika’s doctor’s name was Dr. Igor. Maybe he felt that he was somehow healing me. Maybe in some small way he had.