Search

DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

Tag

bookworm

Book Review: The Devil and Miss Prym by Paulo Coelho

Genre: Fiction/Religion/Philosophy
Copy: Paperback
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌖

Short Synopsis: A stranger arrives at the remote village of Viscos, carrying with him a backpack containing a notebook and eleven gold bars. He comes searching for the answer to a question that torments him: Are human beings, in essence, good or evil? In welcoming the mysterious foreigner, the whole village becomes an accomplice to his sophisticated plot, which will forever mark their lives.

A novel of temptation by the internationally bestselling author Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym is a thought-provoking parable of a community devoured by greed, cowardice, and fear—as it struggles with the choice between good and evil. 

Five reasons to read the book:

1) The questions it asks. Are human beings inherently good or evil? Why do we give in to temptations? How far can we go for it? What is more important: the life of one innocent or the prosperity of many? Does the end justify the means? Reading each page of The Devil and Miss Prym is like solving a series of trolley dilemma. Coelho, in a carefully crafted fiction, throws ethical and moral questions at you that leave plenty of room for nuances and introspection.

2) Chantal Prym is all of us. Chantal is not a likeable character; she has her faults and weaknesses just as she has goodness and strengths. We’ve all been through the same struggle where our morals, ego, and what we think we deserve clash. That is why it is easy to BE her in the story.

3) It’s good without being preachy. It doesn’t pit good and evil but instead, shows the correlation between man, and good and evil. The Devil and Miss Prym reminds us of our free will and the consequences that come with it. Everything is matter of choice, big or small.

4) The time frame. As with the two other books in the trilogy, And on the Seventh Day, this story chronicles a week in the life of Chantal. I like how I can be “in the moment” without thinking much about the characters’ past or future.

5) Coelho’s trademark prose and mysticism. While not everyone is into his kind of writing, I enjoyed every page of this book.

Highlighted Quotes: 

“Whenever you want to achieve something, keep your eyes open, concentrate and make sure you know exactly what it is you want. No one can hit their target with their eyes closed.”

“People want to change everything and, at the same time, want it all to remain the same.”

“So you see, Good and Evil have the same face; it all depends on when they cross the path of each individual human being.”

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready.”

“Victories and defeats form part of everyone’s life – everyone, that is, except cowards, as you call them, because they never lose or win.”

Final Thoughts: 

Truth is, I had more questions than answers after reading this book. Though this is not the first time for I felt the same with Veronika Decides to Die and By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept. But I like how Coelho continues to give me more reasons to be interested at life and living.

Here’s a snippet from a note I wrote when I first read The Devil and Miss Prym in 2012:

Every day is a struggle between good and evil — not one person is completely noble or totally wicked. We encounter questions and situations that put us in a crossroad between right and wrong. At most times, the hardest part is weighing things right. The things that we do, the words that we say, and the thoughts that we contemplate rely on how we deal with the overlapping dos and don’ts. In the end, the decision is ours on which is which…

Because just as what Paulo Coelho said,
“It was all a matter of control. And Choice.
Nothing more, nothing less.”


Posting this long-overdue review in celebration of Paulo Coelho’s 74th birthday today. Feliz cumpleaños, Sr. Coelho. Que tengas una larga vida y nos hagas muchos libros. ❤

 

Book Talk: How do you beat reading slump?

I have not read for a while now. One of my bookmarks is stuck on page 60 of Atwood’s Alias Grace; the other is on page 12 of Ikigai.

I could not keep up.

My mind is in disarray. There’s a live wire inside of me that carries alternating concern and indifference. If I switch between the two, I’d short circuit either way.

A funny metaphor, I know. And probably erroneous too, but who would pay much attention to such mistake when the world has had enough of it?

How are you?
Are you living well?
I hope so…

This is me on my third try at getting back to life. It Cornwell’s From Potter’s Field this time.

Quick Notes: Contemporary YAs that once made my young heart flutter

Last night, for the first time after a long while, I opened my Goodreads account. How time flies… This is where I used to keep a real-time update on my reading progress before.

Now, it remains a quiet place of dusty virtual bookshelves.

In my boredom, I found delight in skimming my old posts — especially reading my thoughts on contemporary YAs. It brought me back to the time when I was most hopeless romantic. Still is (though a little older now). I’m grateful for these books for filling the gap in my lack of experience on love and heartaches. For inspiring some of my poems and short stories. For making my young hear flutter.

Hence, I’ve decided to share them here in WordPress. Perhaps, some people here needs a little extra cheese or a quick read. Hope this helps.

  1. The Awaken series by Katie Kackvisnky – A dystopia rather than a love story. This is how I would describe the Awaken series. It is set in 2060, a not-so-distant future, where human interaction is almost nonexistent due to the fact that everything can be done online. Kids attend digital school, friends and families get together virtually, shopping are done by the touch of a keypad, etc. These are imagined scenes that are slowly turning into reality in today’s world. A must-read in this digital era.
⭐⭐⭐⭐

“Life should be a risk. It’s more than a straight line that you can see clearly from one point to the other. It dips and curves and you never know what’s around the bend sometimes until you get there. That scares a lot of people. But that’s the beauty of it.” ―Awaken

Continue reading “Quick Notes: Contemporary YAs that once made my young heart flutter”

Quick Notes: Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

Genre: Realistic Fiction/Philosophy/Mental Health
Copy: Paperback
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌖

“Once you learn how to die, you learn how to live.”

This line from Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie perfectly summarizes Veronika Decides to Die for me.

Inspired by events from Coelho’s past life, this book tells the story of Veronika — a 24-year-old woman who seems to have everything anyone could ever ask for. Nonetheless, she feels dissatisfied and makes a decision to end her life. She lives and survives and finds herself in a mental asylum where her life completely change.

I finished Veronika Decides to Die last week but it took me a while to wrap my emotions around it. Not sure if it’s the timing, since I was going through another anxiety phase when I was reading it; or because I haven’t considered suicide yet; or because Veronika’s troubles hit very close to home.

Life and death are the central themes of the story, as are madness and conformity.

This book will make you ponder on the consequences of living a repressed life, one that conforms to the norms set by society or that is bounded by one’s own limiting beliefs. It will have you thinking about the days when you feel like Veronika (tired of your prosaic life), or Zedka (unable to keep your emotions at ease), or Mari (too afraid so you choose to escape the real world), or Eduard (constrained by other people’s demand and pressure). It will make you question your authenticity — and insanity.

What would I do if death comes sooner than I expected? Truth is, I don’t know. But just as Vilette is a “safe place” for these people to express themselves, I’d say poetry is my own. Perhaps through these poems, I’d get to figure out myself and life.

Overall, this novel left me more questions than realizations (which is a good thing). Looking forward to finding the answers as I live my numbered days. 😀

Book Review: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant

Genre: Historical Fiction/Religion/Feminism
Copy: Paperback
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌕🌖

Short Synopsis: Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah’s voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers—Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah—the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah’s story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women’s society.

What I Liked:

  1. Diamant’s writing. Poetic and lyrical were my reactions when I read the first few pages of the book. I love the tone of voice Diamant used for the main character Dinah. Her prose is very visual and animated. It felt like listening to a spoken word poetry.
  2. A breath of fresh air. I’m not a keen Bible reader. I am one of those who only knew Dinah as a name mentioned in the Bible. That is why I find it refreshing to read a fictional first-person narrative about her version of her life. Through the eyes of Dinah, we get an insight, if only re-imagined, of biblical times. We get to learn about their cultures, practices and way of life.
  3. The curiosities in the Red Tent. In the book, women we’re treated by men as subordinate — submissive, used, cursed — a scene still recognizable in today’s world. However, their resilience shines within the boundaries of the red tent, where I would say most of the interesting scenes happen. It is where women go during their periods (although I find it a little weird that all the women in the story has a synced cycle). In the red tent, the lives of women are kept alive through storytelling and memories. In the red tent, secrets, conversations and feelings are shared. In the red tent, you get a sense of how powerful women can be. Blood signifies both life and death, beginning and end, pain and pleasure, tears and joy. Such interesting things to ponder.

What I didn’t like: The book, in general, takes a feminist slant so I understand that the POVs are focused mostly on women. However, there were slightly biased depictions of men. Some lack character development, while others seem like trifling characters.

Favorite quotes:

“If you want to understand any woman you must first ask about her mother and then listen carefully.”

“The painful things seemed like knots on a beautiful necklace, necessary for keeping the beads in place.”

“Of all life’s pleasures, only love owes no debt to death.”

“I could not get my fill of looking.
There should be a song for women to sing at this moment (giving birth) or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment.”

“Death is no enemy, but the foundation of gratitude, sympathy, and art.”

“It is terrible how much has been forgotten, which is why, I suppose, remembering seems a holy thing.”

Final Thoughts: Captivating. Rich. Beautifully and poignantly penned. It may only be a fictionalized version but every page brims with life.

I’m glad that this novel did not end with forgiveness of sins and starting all over because some sins are far too great to be forgiven, more so forgotten. But not forgiving others does not necessarily means living every day with anger. This is what Dinah showed me. It is choosing to walk away from the bad and move forward. And, sometimes, the closure we seek cannot be found in others but within ourselves.

My reading heart is full.

Have you read The Red Tent? Did you like it as much as I did?

Wrap-Up | March 2021

Monthly Blog Update

We marched into the month of March to celebrate the true beauty and strength of women. Yet, across the world, the number of oppressed and abused women continues to climb at a fast rate. Here in the Philippines, incest and rape soared high during the pandemic. The culture of mysogyny and sexism is an all-day meal. It’s tiring.

And who would have thought, we’d have a dejavu of last year’s trauma. While the rest of the world is trying to move forward, my country — guess what — is still in chaos. There’s too much politics, greed and miscommunication. I could rant and list how fucked we are now but that won’t change a thing.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that March has not been too great for me. Here’s a quick look back:

Things I’ve written…

Creative writing has been hard for me lately. My one and only poem this month was triggered by a recent issue about our Tatay Digs who was seen trying to touch his maid’s private part during his birthday. The palace, of course, defended the man and claimed there was “no malice.” The maid “laughed” and besides, the president’s wife was present. FTW.

Books I’ve read…

I’ve only managed to finish three books this month:

  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
  • Famous Tales of Mystery and Horror by Edgar Allan Poe
  • Love and Misadventure by Lang Leav (re-read)

As for my book haul, I’ve finally got a copy of Mikhail Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita (Php390 @purplephcloset)

Some bookish thoughts:

Places I’ve been…

My friends and I had another sea to summmit experience this month. We spent a weekend camping in a not-so-know mountain in Naga. Though I have nothing against sharing beautiful hiking/camping spots with others, I think it’s not ready for everyone yet. Like it or not, there will be irresponsible people who abuse nature. We need to continue reminding ourselves proper outdoor etiquette.

Respect nature and wildlife. Take your trash with you.

Now, moving onto April….

Quick Notes: Famous Tales of Mystery and Horror by Edgar Allan Poe

Genre: Short Story/Horror/Mystery
Copy: Paperback
Rating: 🌕🌕🌕🌖

Edgar Allan Poe’s first love as a writer was poetry, but he is often known for his short stories which present a cast of peculiar murderers and madmen. I remember reading The Cask of Amontillado during my grade school days. I used to read it over and over and, looking back, I think it was that very story which sparked my interest in the murder mystery genre.

Fast forward 20 years later, here I am rekindling my love for Poe’s fictions. Famous Tales of Mystery and Horror is like an reintroduction to me. The book is a collection of five classic stories — all of which masterfully told in only few words.

Here are my Goodreads entries for each of the tales:

The Telltale Heart (1843) demonstrates Poe’s command of language. He has a way of letting you into a madman’s mind.

The Masque of the Red Death (1842) depicts the inevitability of death and man’s reaction when confronted by it.

Fear. Denial. Rage. Poe, in very few pages, has captured the many follies of man in trying to escape death. This story is a reminder that despite the glares and glitters of life, of our piquancy and phantasm, we will always find death more bizarre.

The Oblong Box (1844) presents a common scene in today’s films. I must admit I saw what was coming in this story. Still, Poe’s descriptives are something to behold.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) was the first of Poe’s three tales of ratiocination which introduced logical reasoning as the method of solving a crime. With the creation of C. Auguste Dupin (the world’s first fictional detective), Poe outlined elements that future novelists, such as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, would adapt and rework.

The Murders in the Rue Morgue was precursored with talks about the game of chess and the mental prowess it requires a player. From then, I knew that it would be a detective story — and, indeed, a well told locked-room mystery it was.

The Purloined Letter (1844) is another story following the exploits of C. Auguste Dupin. It reminds me a lot of Doyle’s A Scandal in Bohemia with the elements of a missing letter and an anxious important person who wants to obtain it. We get a taste of the power of observation through Dupin, who saw above and below what authorities can. What this story taught me, in the end, was that the best way to keep something hidden is not to hide it.

Overall, Famous Tales of Mystery and Horror is a worthwhile read for every mystery-seeking bookworm out there. Can’t wait to read more of Poe’s works of fiction! 🤩

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Cowardice

Featured quote for Writer's Quote Wednesday

“Cowardice is the most terrible of vices.”

― Mikhail Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita

So today, my first book haul for the month of March arrived in the office. It’s The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. I have been looking for a cheaper preloved copy of the book for quite some time and, although payday is still far away, I just couldn’t miss the chance when I found one in Shopee.

I think it’s meant to be too since today we remember Bulgakov’s 81st death anniversary. Have you read The Master and Margarita? Sharing this quote from the book. 😀

Book Talk: Portrait of a scared reader

Do you have a book that scares you? It could be of any genre but mostly it’s horror or suspense thrillers that raise some hairs.

Five years ago, on this day, I found and bought this book in Booksale (SM City Cebu). Fast forward to 2021, I still have not finished it.

Why? Nightmares — every. single. time. i. read. it.

I am a sucker for crime thrillers, books or movies. Give me gore, give me blood, give me mystery (so long as there is no paranormal involved). I also love watching and researching true crime stories. I am passionately interested in what goes into the mind of the mad. So, my experience with Cornwell’s Portrait of a Killer honestly came as a surprise. I’ve had countless attempts of continuing the book which resulted to countless of nighttime terror too.

By 2018, I gave up. It’s not about Cornwell’s writing (I am a big fan of her Scarpetta series by the way). It’s just that the scanned letters, the sketches, the newspaper clippings and the police reports — they all felt so close. It’s different when you’re watching things on the screen. Touching the pages with my hand felt like Jack the Ripper breathing on my nape.

Will I ever get over this book? How do you deal with such fear? Hmm…

Up ↑