September 23, 2011

Book Club Book: A Novel of Temptation

The Devil and Miss Prym
Paulo Coelho
Narrated By: Linda Emond
Fable (Allegory)/Fiction
To Buy (Paperback): AmazonBarnes & Noble

     If you are not familiar with Paulo Coelho's novels, he writes allegorically. He paints you a picture of a story, but behind the story, there is so much MORE. The Devil and Miss Prym is a song. At first, perhaps you are taken with the melody of the chorus, then you begin to understand the lyrics, and apply the feeling to your own life, before long, the tiny nuances of the arrangement of the instrumental moves you. That's my brilliant metaphor for the experience that is this book.

Paulo Coelho (Pronounced in my audio book as co-el-ee-oh) is Brazilian. He is one of the most successful authors in the world, publishing books in over 70 languages, and selling over 100 million copies. I've read two of his books and started a third: The Alchemist, the novel of wisdom; The Devil and Miss Prym, the novel of temptation; The Zahir, the novel of obsession. The first two I adored, the last, I could not even finish (couldn't get engaged in the story, I will try to read it again in the future).

Coelho is driven by plot rather than characterization, similar to Stephen King. In The Devil and Miss Prym, a stranger visits a remote village with several bars of gold, which he shows to a local village girl. The thing is, he's lost his faith in human-kind, and is trying to prove to himself something about the nature of humanity. He tells the girl to tell the villagers that if they break one of the ten commandments - thou shall not kill - he will give them the gold, which they need to bring their small village back to life. He would then conclude that all people have an evil nature. Seeing another possibility, he the girl that if she decided to steal the gold, also breaking one of the commandments, he would conclude that only some people have an evil nature. He was convinced that only one of those two scenarios could possibly happen, and declared he would lose faith in life if the village folk stayed virtuous and resisted the temptation.

I have never read a book more perfect for in-depth-book-club-discussion than this one. The story is packed with philosophy and moral and even religious dilemmas. It has a nice aire of symmetry, and you won't believe what happens in the small community. I highly recommend this book to anyone. Dig for the bigger picture philosophical and psychological meanings behind some of the characters and reactions. This is a book about the raw human nature we all have buried at various depths within us. 


Steven E. Belanger said...

The Alchemist is on my list of things to read. It's one of the best-selling books in the world in the last 50 years!

Emma said...

The Alchemist is about a great adventure, but I think this one digs a lot deeper into the human psyche. Both are great books. I hope you enjoy The Alchemist :-)