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The Devil and Miss Prym: A Novel of Temptation Hardcover – Deckle Edge, July 3, 2006

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (July 3, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060527994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060527990
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (88 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,629 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

New to the U.S. but first published in Europe in 1992, Coelho's latest (following the bestselling The Zahir) is an old school parable of good and evil. When a stranger enters the isolated mountain town of Viscos with the devil literally by his side, the widow Berta knows (because her deceased husband, with whom she communicates daily, tells her) that a battle for the town's souls has begun. The stranger, a former arms dealer, calls himself Carlos and proposes a wager to the town: if someone turns up murdered within a week, he'll give the town enough gold to make everyone wealthy. Carlos ensures people believe him by choosing the town bartender, the orphan Chantal Prym, as his instrument: he shows her where the gold is, confides that his wife and children have been executed by kidnapper terrorists (remember: 1992), and that he is hoping his belief that people are basically evil will be vindicated. Chantal would like nothing better than to disappear with the gold herself and thus faces her own dilemmas. Add in corrupt townspeople (including a priest), sometimes biting social commentary and, distastefully, a very heavily stereotyped recurring town legend about an Arab named Ahab, and you've got quite a little Garden of Eden potboiler. But the unsatisfying ending lets everyone off the hook and leaves questions hanging like ripe apples. (July 3)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Internationally acclaimed author and contemporary fabulist Coelho concludes his excellent And on the Seventh Day trilogy with another provocative morality tale centered on a "week in the life of ordinary people, all of whom find themselves suddenly confronted by love, death, and power." As in By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept (1996) and Veronika Decides to Die (2001), the characters who populate the author's fictional village, a moribund community struggling to maintain its ever-elusive spiritual identity, are immediately thrust into the center of the timeless conflict between right and wrong when a stranger bearing 11 bars of gold and accompanied by the devil arrives in Viscos prepared to challenge the citizens of the town with an intriguing moral dilemma. Will the townsfolk succumb to temptation, confirming that man is inherently evil; or will goodness triumph over evil, proving that every human being has the capacity to make his own choices and decide his or her own destiny? These and other philosophical questions are posed by Coehlo in the same mesmerizing, lyrical style he employed in The Alchemist (1993). A natural choice for book clubs and discussion groups. Margaret Flanagan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

More About the Author

The Brazilian author PAULO COELHO is considered one of the most influential authors of our times. His books have sold more than 165 million copies worldwide, have been released in 170 countries and been translated into 80 languages.

Born in Rio de Janeiro in 1947, he soon discovered his vocation for writing. He worked as a director, theater actor, songwriter and journalist. His collaboration with Brazilian composer and singer Raúl Seixas gave some of the greatest classic rock songs in Brazil. In 1986, a special meeting led him to make the pilgrimage to Saint James Compostela (in Spain). The Road to Santiago was not only a common pilgrimage but a turning point in his existence. A year later, he wrote 'The Pilgrimage', an autobiographical novel that is considered the beginning of his career.

In the following year, COELHO published 'The Alchemist'. Slow initial sales convinced his first publisher to drop the novel, but it went on to become one of the best selling Brazilian books of all time.

Other titles include 'Brida' (1990), 'The Valkyries' (1992), 'By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept' (1994), the collection of his best columns published in the Brazilian newspaper Folha de S. Paulo entitle 'Maktub' (1994), the compilation of texts 'Phrases' (1995), 'The Fifth Mountain' (1996), 'Manual of a Warrior of Light' (1997), 'Veronika decides to die' (1998), 'The Devil and Miss Prym' (2000), the compilation of traditional tales in 'Stories for parents, children and grandchildren' (2001), 'Eleven Minutes' (2003), 'The Zahir' (2005), 'Like the Flowing River' (2006), 'The Witch of Portobello' (2006), 'The Winner Stands Alone' (2008), 'Aleph' (2010), 'Manuscript found in Accra' (2012) and 'Adultery' (2014).

He has received numerous prestigious international awards. He is member of the Academy of Letters of Brazil since 2002 and Messenger of Peace by the United Nations since 2007. In 2009 he received the Guinness World Record for the most translated author for the same book (The Alchemist).

The man behind the author likes to write and practices Kyudo - a meditative archery. He loves reading, walking, football and computers. In that sense, he has always maintained a close contact with his readers but now, and thanks to the new media, he has established an incredible feedback with them. Paulo was the second most influential celebrity on Twitter in 2010 according to Forbes and he is the writer with the highest number of followers in the social media.

In the past years Paulo Coelho has expanded his presence in the internet with his daily blogs in Wordpress (, Facebook (, Twitter ( & Instagram (, among others. He is equally present in media sharing sites such as Youtube ( and Flickr ( , offering on a regular basis not only texts but also videos and pictures to his readers.

Customer Reviews

An empowering and enjoyable, highly recommended read.
C. Stevens
Talks about coexistance of good and evil in human nature and how life circumstances can change us each time into either good or a bad people.
This could be intentional, but it is written so clumsily that it really just seems like sloppy writing (and thinking) on Coelho's part.
symptom addict

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca M on August 11, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Once again, Coelho deftly uses his gifts as a storyteller to delve into the meat of the human condition. This "novel of temptation" is in the same vein as Coelho's The Alchemist, wherein he uses a simple narrative technique to approach some very difficult questions.

Although one might think it would be impossible to explore good vs. evil without a certain amount of rhetoric, Coelho's approach is fresh and does not resort to the usual cliches. The heroine does not shine and the villain is a victim of circumstance. In the two characters we see both sides of ourselves.

The book reads like a morality play in that the town of Viscos is Everytown and the Stranger is Everyman. Coelho has brought on the renaissance of the parable as an art form and should be commended on his ability to explore truth without grandstanding. This is a book that should humble even the most saintly of readers.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Nicole Del Sesto on May 17, 2006
Format: Paperback
The beauty of The Alchemist was that in Santiago we had a character to love and go on adventures with. Along the way we learned as the he learned. That is what made it such a powerful book.

The problem with Coelho's more recent works is that he seems to have sacrificed character development and storyline for overt lessons. While The Devil and Miss Prym had its moments, I mostly felt like I was being preached to throughout the course of the book. I couldn't bond with the characters and though there was a story, it was weak. This book had the potential to be much more. We could have become emotionally attached to "the stranger" by experiencing his loss with him, vs. being told about it. It was hard to care about Berta's outcome because we didn't really know her. The five paragraphs of the story of Midas pretty much told the story. We've heard it before.

Overall, I found this latest Coelho fairly disappointing. I wish he would to back to the storytelling and allow the readers to derive their own message. What we learn through our own discovery is far more powerful than being conked on the head with the message.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. Symington on July 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I loved this book ... am scratching my head at the some of the negative comments. Some of the most clever, thought-provoking gems are hidden in the middle section that one reviewer considered "rambling" ... I think a more careful read would elicit a different response. Coelho is known for his layered prose, and this is no exception. Given the times in which we live, the struggle between good and evil resonates heartily with those of us who so desperately ask "why?". Although this book does not definitively answer that question, its hidden wisdom is thought-provoking and genuine. I heartily recommend it.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. O'Grady on June 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
After reading the Alchemist (which was recommeneded to me by four people) I wanted to read more by this author. This is the best book I have read in a while! It made me reflect on human nature and will stick with me for years to come. The book explores whether people are naturally good or evil. I was drawn in from the beginning and stayed interested until the conclusion. It is a quick and thought proviking read. I then read Veronika Decides to Die. That was also a good book. I just ordered three more of his books, he is a facinating author.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Maurice Williams on September 27, 2006
Format: Paperback
"The Devil and Miss Prym" is the last of a Coelho's trilogy that explores the parameters of Good and Evil and their impact on the human soul. In this story a stranger, battered and disheartened by the absolute worse that life can dish out, visits a small town with the intensions of carrying out an experiment aimed at assuaging some of his bitterness and pain. While in the village, he enlists the help of Miss Prym who, bored with small town living, sees an opportunity for escape; but at what cost? As the story unfolds the people of Viscos learn of the experiment and how they, collectively and individually, can benefit from it. It is Coelho's interrogation of the villagers' intentions that provides the reader with a glimpse of the dueling forces of good and evil.

The novel is very well translated from Spanish as I never felt that something was missing while reading it. The language is loaded with meaning and highly symbolic. "Viscos is just like any other village in the world and whatever happens there happens in every continent, city, camp, convent, wherever." This is the wisdom shared with Miss Prym by Berta, the village's aged sage who spends her days watching over the village in an effort to see any evil coming. I've always enjoyed Coelho's work and "The Devil and Miss Prym" is no different. This is a solid story that's easily read and internalized. Ultimately, what we learn about good and evil from this text sounds a lot simpler than I expected and much more easily articulated than done. This is a quick yet profound read. Highly Recommended.
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29 of 40 people found the following review helpful By symptom addict on November 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This book has three main faults. First, the "Stranger" who comes to town to test the villagers' morality is totally inconsistent. One minute he wants them to pass the "test," the next minute he wants them to fail ... and you get the impression that the author doesn't even notice. Thus, the Stranger says initially that "if I leave the village with my eleven gold bars intact"---i.e., if the murder does not take place---"then everything I wanted to believe in will have proved to be a lie. I will die having received an answer I would rather not have received, because I would find life more acceptable if I were proved right and the world is evil." (In other words, he wants the world to be evil.) But midway throught the book, he tells Miss Prym that "If compassion exists"---i.e., again if the murder does not take place---"I will accept that fate was harsh with me, but that sometimes it can be gentle with others. That...will drive away the devil that's always with me and give me some hope." (That is, he wants the world to be good.) He spends the rest of the book waffling between these two extremes. This could be intentional, but it is written so clumsily that it really just seems like sloppy writing (and thinking) on Coelho's part.

Second, Miss Prym rails against the cowardice of the villagers for 150 pages; she and the Stranger both reflect at length on how people are ruled by their fears, and what a pity this is, and if people would only stop acting out of cowardice, how much better the world would be, etc.; but then she is suddenly blessed with a revelation from angels that will save everyone---and what is this revelation? A blatant appeal to the villagers' cowardice! "If you take the gold, you'll be investigated & thrown in jail!" This is the angelic message?
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