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DoodleScribbles

Scribblings and scrawls of a hopeless romantic soul

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life lessons

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. ❤

 

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. 😀

Writer’s Quote Wednesday – Let love shine

Featured quote for Writer's Quote Wednesday

“Love, whether newly born or aroused from a deathlike slumber, must always create sunshine, filling the heart so full of radiance, that it overflows upon the outward world.”

― Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

Nathaniel Hawthorne died, on this day, in 1864. May this quote awaken the spirit of love within us all in these trying times when anger, hate and fear are at its height.

Where the mind is without fear by Rabindranath Tagore

Featured poems and spoken word poetry

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.


Sharing this one from Rabindranath Tagore who was born 160 years ago. This piece is not just a poem, it is a prayer that still speaks true to this day.

My mouth is an open wound for the flies

Honey, let me tell you what your eyes refuse to see

When I smile at the man who dares touch my skin,
All my insides turn upside down
My ribcage strain to hold out anger
My chest is empty of breaths and full of violence
A curse has latched itself into my bones ─
It peels. It burns.

Beyond my Cheshire smile is a war
Between words I want to say and the world that won’t let me
My heathen tongue is shut by the thing that you call “joke”
So I bite down a wrathful scream
Swallow a coil of sorrow,
Bury it deep in a mass grave of apologies

For being a woman who can’t fight.

Honey, you see ─ or perhaps you don’t
There is no safe place my kind
Against the devil and you, the accessory to the crime
Who thinks a touch,
A tap,
A graze,
A pinch
Is just being “playful”

I am not a toy.

I am bones and flesh held hostage
By prejudice and wealthy monsters
Who use my lack for their gain ─
Leave your pretense on my doorstep
For I have long died
My smile ─ no, my mouth
Is now an open wound for the flies

Open your eyes.


I know that I said I won’t let current news and affairs affect me. That I would take care of my mental health first. But there are just those days when people’s stupidity triggers the anger in you. This is one of those moments.

Bohol Backpacking: Exploring Ubay and Alicia (Day 1)

With its impressive and diverse natural wonders, Bohol has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Philippines. People gravitate toward this quaint island province because of its beautiful beaches, stunning peaks, untamed attractions, exciting eco-adventures, and welcoming people.

If only there is no COVID-19, our summer getaways would have been planned out. Itineraries would be ready. Check lists would be ticked off.

But we can’t have that, at least not yet. So here I am, reminiscing a three-year-old trip in Bohol I had with three strangers turned friends.

The Making of Team Buwad
They say that people are guests in our story just as we are guests in theirs. Looking back, James, An, Shandy and I have come a long way. From day hikes to major climbs, sea to summit ─ it’s funny how far a ¼ kilo of buwad for 20 pesos has brought us.

Some people would find it funny, but that’s how the inside joke started.

An and I have met before during our hike for a cause in Toledo but we didn’t really get a change to interact. Meanwhile, James and Shandy were complete strangers to me. I was unsure how this trip would turn out for the four of us but, apparently, some people just naturally click!

Our weekend adventure in Bohol started in Ubay, a first-class municipality that boasts a strong agri-tourism. They take pride of their vast rice fields, large plantations, and huge dams.

And that is what we came here for.

After buying our last-minute errands, we charted a tricycle to take us to our first two destinations.

Continue reading “Bohol Backpacking: Exploring Ubay and Alicia (Day 1)”

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. 😀

Wrap-Up | February 2021

Monthly Blog Update

February was indeed a month of love. I’ve had 28 days of happiness and momentary peace despite my writing and reading life turning not as productive as I originally planned. From Valentine’s Day to my birthday to my best friend’s wedding —  life has been great overall.

Here’s a quick wrap-up of the month that was.

Things I’ve written…

Books I’ve read…

I intend to read all three books in my vintage classic box set (Secret Garden, Little Women, Alice in Wonderland) this month, but life happened wonderfully so I only got to finish Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women.

I have started Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland but that will have to carry over this March.

And, who would have thought, I got no book haul this month too! HAHA. My pockets are smiling from ear to ear. I did receive Lang Leav’s Love and Misadventure as a birthday gift from a friend.

Places I’ve been…

Maria finally went out of town to get a taste of nature’s best this month. To celebrate Valentine’s Day and my birthday, my friends and I went to the northwestern part of Cebu. It was a sea to summit experience, filled with laughter and joy.

Read more of our trip here: Tuburan Escapade: Better than your chocolate-and-flowers kind of date

I’ve also had my first day hike of 2021 on the last day of the month. James, Chiarra and I went to everyone’s go-to hiking spot, the Spartan Trail. What a way to end the very special February!

Now, let’s go march to March! 😀

Heavy by Mary Oliver

Featured poems and spoken word poetry

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”
So I went practicing.
Have you noticed?

Have you heard
the laughter
that comes, now and again,
out of my startled mouth?

How I linger
to admire, admire, admire
the things of this world
that are kind, and maybe

also troubled –
roses in the wind,
the sea geese on the steep waves,
a love
to which there is no reply?


Sharing this poignant poem about dying and living after someone’s death. For some unknown reason, I find myself drawn to this piece today. I hope we all heal from all kinds of loss.

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