Veronika decides to die

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On November 11, 1997, Veronika decided that the moment to kill herself had—at last!—arrived.

She does not die; instead, she wakes up in Villette—the “famous and much-feared lunatic asylum”—only to be told that, having damaged her heart irreparably, she has just a few days to live. What she faces now is a waiting game and the strange world of Villette: the rules and regulations which govern the lives of its inmates and the doctors who treat them. Coelho's question may be a familiar one: crudely, who, or what, is mad? But his fiction is a remarkable, sometimes chilling, response to it. “Everyone has an unusual story to tell” is the starting-point of the new treatment initiated at Villette by the enigmatic Dr Igor; it's also the insight from which this book takes off to explore the impact of a “slow, irreparable death” on a young woman and the mad men and women around her.