The Devil and Miss Prym

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The Devil and Miss Prym
Author Paul B. Coelho
Original title O Demônio e a Srta. Prym
Country Brazil
Language Portuguese
Genre Novel
Publication date
Media type Print (Hardcover, Paperback)
Pages 205 pp (Paperback)
ISBN 0-00-711605-5
OCLC 59407077

The Devil and Miss Prym (Portuguese: O Demônio e a Srta. Prym) is a novel by the Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho.

Plot summary[edit]

For almost fifteen years, old Berta had spent everyday sitting outside, watching over the little village Viscos, talking with her deceased husband. She is waiting for the devil to come, as her husband predicted. One day a stranger appears with the intention of staying one week in the village.

In the woods he buries 11 bars of gold. On the way back he meets Chantal Prym, a young and beautiful barmaid, who is bored of the idyllic scenery and slow pace of life. Regularly she seduces tourists in the hope that one of them will prove to be her escape route. The stranger shows her the buried treasure and promises that it will belong to the villagers if they agree to kill someone.

There is a ferocious battle within the young woman; a battle between her angel and her devil. She sees in the gold the ticket to finally escape. Still, something holds her back.

After some days, she decides to tell what the stranger has proposed, trusting that they will refuse. The people's reaction, however, plants the seed of doubt inside of Chantal. Now she fears for her own life. As an act of desperation, she plans to abandon Viscos with one of the stranger's bars. Destiny sends a rogue wolf, which threatens Chantal's life. The stranger arrives, and both escape.

Meanwhile the villagers assemble to choose their victim. The scapegoat they choose is Berta, since she is already old and serves no purpose in the village. Before the villagers shoot a sedated Berta, Chantal convinces them that under no circumstances murder is justified; our conduct is a matter of control and choice. In the end the stranger receives the answers to his questions through a brief conversation between St. Savin and Arab Leader Abah.


The stranger[edit]

A man persecuted by the ghosts of his painful past comes to Viscos desperately searching for answers. Once he was a good man, but at the whim of destiny his life was torn apart. His family were kidnapped by a group of terrorists who threatened to kill them unless he agreed to hand over a huge amount of weapons. He, however made the mistake of calling in the police and thus sacrificing what he held dearest. The loss of his family caused a, seemingly unbearable, pain. He desires closure by discovering the motives for the terrorists who killed his family, and by determining whether humanity is truly good or evil.

Old Berta[edit]

The widow passed her days with watching the village and the nature surrounding it. Often enough she had a little chat with her already deceased husband. She had the ability to see ghosts, the peoples' emotions, devils, and angels as well, which was the reason for the villagers calling her a witch. Berta can also read signs of nature so she took the hint when there was a storm approaching the moment the stranger arrived in the village.

The inhabitants of Viscos decided her to die as a sacrifice for the welfare of the village and agreed to pay her back with building a fountain. Even when she didn't have to die she got her fountain.

Chantal Prym[edit]

Chantal Prym is a young and beautiful girl in the village. She used to work in a hotel in the village for a living since her parents died when she was a child. She has a dream to move to the big city like other youngsters from the village did, but due to lack of money she is not able to do it.

St. Savin

St. Savin is Christian hermit that lived in the hills surrounding Visco's in its past. At this time Viscos was a town for villains and crooks until St. Savin is able to convert the leader of the town, a man called Ahab, from a life of evil deeds to one of benevolence.


An important historical figure in the history of Viscos. He was converted from a life of villainy and evil to a life of benevolence when he allowed a peaceful Saint to stay within his home. It is Ahab that is able to change Viscos into a paradise on earth by changing his ways and changing the town into one filled with benevolent residents.

Various Devils and Angels

At different times during the story, mostly in association with Chantel, Berta, and the Stranger, devils and angels have their say. The angels allude to certain hoped happenings that they care not to voice, lest the devils hear and try to frustrate their efforts.

Major themes[edit]

The plot deals with choices in everyday life, which is a battle between good and evil by itself. Finally, our choices make the difference; but we have to take responsibility for our actions.


Paulo Coelho's The Devil and Miss Prym mentions the author, but not the story directly referenced- the concept of Coelho's book is based on the German 1956 play, The Visit, by Friedrich Durrenmatt.

The Devil and Miss Prym has sold its rights to 43 languages: Albanian, Arabic, Bulgarian, Catalan, Chinese (Complex), Chinese (Simplified), Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, Finnish, French, Georgian, German, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Malayalam, Marathi, Norwegian, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Urdu, Sinhala,[1] Ukrainian and Vietnamese.