A while ago I wrote a post about reading a book twice: was it fun, healthy or just a waste of time?. I began reading “The Devil and Miss Prym” for the second time but switched to another book a few pages into it. I’m not sure why. Later when I finally did get back to reading it, I finished it in a few days. And loved it.
The book is a fable, which deals with the struggle between good and evil. A stranger arrives in an isolated mountain village and he brings with him a devilish offer. I don’t want to tell what the offer is, as I think the surprise of it is what gives the book its strength. I think it would a shame to know this before reading. (It’s one of the reasons I avoid book covers when a friend lends me a book to read). Anyway, the stranger’s instigation throws the townspeople into a moral tailspin and everyone tries to find moral excuses for doing something evil.
I admit that I didn’t have the wow-factor I did during the first read, but I did remember why I liked it then. The writing is so fluent that I’m not bogged down by too many words and can just get lost in the story. There are no unnecessary descriptions or explanations.
Although the entire book is about the characters’ internal conflict, there is little telling and the thought processes of many of the townspeople and the stranger are slowly revealed. I love trying to empathise with everyone . Like many of Paulo Coelho’s stories, it’s about philosophy and morality, which will keep you thinking long after you’ve finished the book. It is a great book to discuss with others, but unfortunately I know few people who’ve read it, too.
And I’m also a sucker for stories where the devil, or death or other spirits are personified. I think it’s one of the reasons that I love reading South American literature.