On the Author’s Note, Paulo Coelho mentioned that The Devil and Miss Prym is the conclusion to a trilogy. The first two books were By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and Veronika Decides to Die. I’ve had the pleasure to read Veronika Decides to Die and had I known that it was part of a trilogy, I would definitely have read By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept first. Anyway, this review is not about the trilogy, it is about one single book – The Devil and Miss Prym.
The setting of the book was in small town called Viscos. Just like in the Witch of Portobello, Coelho placed the setting nowhere. It is neither here or there. I loved that. It made me create a setting in my mind without being obliged to choose characters of a certain race or flowers of certain species. There were less than 300 inhabitants – all adults and no children. The eldest being Berta, a widow who is too weak and too old to work and the youngest being Chantal (Miss Prym), who is in search for happiness. The people can be described from 2 perspectives. From an angel’s perspective, the people of town were honest, hard-working and disciplined. From a devil’s perspective, the people of the town were cowardice, boring and evil.
Angels and devils had a lot to do with the plot of the story which transpired within a week. Viscos had a visitor who was accompanied by the devil. Of course, with the devil in the picture, temptation, greed and the battle between good and evil was, too.
Angels and devils were not the end of the story. In fact, I found the book a little bit whimsical (which, by the way, I did not mind). There were rogue wolves, a dead husband spying on the town and telling its secrets to his wife who was too old and weak to be socializing. Moreover, the quirky aspects of the novel played a significant role on the plot.
The story is simple. The stranger who came to visit had 11 gold bars with him. He told one person, Chantal. He buried one gold bar and told Chantal that she could have it. The other 10 would be given to Viscos, so as long as the whole town agrees to murder someone. Now, why would a man do this? The stranger was haunted by his painful past. I’ll leave it to the book to explain that part to you. It was a stressful week for everyone. At the end, Chantal had all the gold to herself, all 11 gold bars. Well played.
After reading the book, I realized that though good and evil are opposites, they also had some similarities. That is why sometimes we have trouble differentiating the silence that comes from innocence and the silence that comes from being naïve. The same is true with the anger that comes from a jealous lover and the anger that comes from a concerned parent. Logically, evil is tempting and man gets satisfied with what evil can do. I believe Coehlo tried his best to make Chantal look like she was in a win-win situation. No one died, she got all the gold.
No. She was greedy.
Moreover, this book will make you think if man is naturally evil. Many philosophers have pointed this out. Others have said otherwise. What do you think now and what do you think after you read this book?
I give this book 4 out of 5 stars. I’m sure this is not his best work but I’m not sure if this is his worse. I deem likey that it’s not because I plan to read all his novels. Thanks for taking your time to read my review!