Pick up a newspaper or turn on the nightly news and you may think that everyone in the world is evil. How can so many bad things happen in the world? Are there no good people? The novel, The Devil and Miss Prym, by Paulo Coelho, explores this concept.
In Viscos, a tiny village, an old woman named Berta sits outside waiting for the devil to arrive. She speaks with her dead husband who warns that the devil will make an appearance one day. Berta guards over the village for nearly fifteen years. Then a stranger arrives.
Chantal Prym, a beautiful young barmaid happens to meet the stranger in the woods. He asks her to walk with him. The stranger takes her to a spot where he has buried eleven gold bars. He continues by telling her that the village can keep all of the gold if they do one thing for him. The stranger wants the village to commit a murder. As it turns out, the stranger suffered a great tragedy, and he is desperate to know if good people still exist in the world.
Will the villagers commit murder to claim riches? If they do decide to kill someone, which villager deserves to die?
This novel didn’t quite work for me. At times I enjoyed the story. In today’s world, it is hard to know how many good people there are in the world. But mostly, I found the story too simplistic. Without ruining the end, I don’t think the author truly explored the decision of the villagers convincingly. When I finished the novel I found myself scratching my head thinking, that’s it? What happened to the good v evil discussion? What’s his point? It’s really hard to explain my frustration without ruining the book.
Admittedly, I haven’t read any other works by Paulo Coelho, but I had heard great things about him. I expected more. Much more. He has one more book on my 1001 books you must read before you die list, which is Veronika Decides to Die. I really hope it’s better than this one.
Has anyone read The Devil and Miss Prym? What did you think? Did I just miss the brilliant aspect of the novel?