Literature: Coelho’s The Devil and Miss Prym

“…it seemed that her love was unrequited, but what did that matter? Anyone who loves in the expectation of being loved in return is wasting their time.” –from Paulo Coelho’s The Devil and Miss Prym

The Devil and Miss PrymIn 2008, I told myself that I’d read more fiction, generally, and more Paulo Coelho, specifically. I’ve been reading a lot of fiction, but it’s already April, and I’ve only finished my first Coelho novel for the year: The Devil and Miss Prym (2000). This book is subtitled “A Novel of Temptation,” and it reads like a modern-day morality tale in which the forces of Good and Evil are pitted against each other. The story takes place over a seven-day period during which a stranger visits the remote village of Viscos and offers its inhabitants enough gold to sustain itself indefinitely in return for the murder of one of its members. The stranger first confronts the young Miss Prym with the proposal and puts her in the position to decide whether or not she will tell the village members or simply walk away with a portion of the gold herself. As in Coelho’s The Alchemist, this story is simple and general enough so that readers will easily identify with struggles that the main characters are experiencing. Overall, I found this book to be a meaningful read, as it challenges us to look at the ways in which temptation shows up in our own lives. The Devil and Miss Prym will inspire readers to look at the ongoing tensions between Good and Evil in their current situations, and it tells a captivating story in the process. One thing I like about Coelho’s books (the Harper Perennial editions, at least) is that they contain “about the author” and “about the book” sections at the end. Coelho is a fascinating character, himself, and on the topic of learning some of life’s lessons through reading fiction, he says:

“I don’t think that life’s lessons are in books or music or whatever. I think that true lessons are in experience. So when you read a book or listen to music or talk to someone, you share some of your thoughts and have the feeling that you are not alone.” –Paulo Coelho     

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