So far, By the river Piedra I sat down & wept is my 6th book review of Paulo Coelho. You can check out others here: Manual of the Warrior of Light, Brida, The Alchemist, The Valkyries, Like the Flowing River. So now back to another spiritual book of Paulo Coelho. It is pretty negative to say from the start that I don’t remember much about this book. As I’m reviewing it now, I need to read again a bit here and there to see what to write about it. Among Paulo Coelho’s books, this is by far my least favourite one. But for the sake of my habit of collecting books from author I love, I would still buy this one even if I knew it wasn’t good.
What is By the river Piedra I sat down & wept about?
As usual, I’m gonna sum up the main story-line in my own words. Which is extremely short and less attracting than the one you would read on the back of the book cover. First of, this is one of the book of his that talks entirely about Love. I expected some teardrops (since it is about Love, good writing often leaves readers with tears at the end though). But you wouldn’t cry for this one.
The love story belongs to Pilar and her best childhood friend. They were parted for more than a decade. During which, he (the character was not named) set off to explore the world through a spiritual path. While she stayed at the same old small village, where everyday seems no different from another. The days dragged on, her life dragged on with predictable life decisions, as such going to university, trying to study well, etc. And then one day, they reunited. Pilar was challenged to step out of her comfort zone, to love again and accept love from her childhood friend. In the end, they ended up together. This book has a happy-ending.
I hate to say this, but I didn’t enjoy By the river Piedra I sat down & wept …
You see, I couldn’t care less to spoil the book by telling you how it ends. I apologise if I make you lose interest in the book so much. But I have good reasons, so bear with me through this review.
The story line is predictable and way too simple. I mean there are conflicts but they are not built up well. I imagine Pilar could have gone through much more internal struggle to love again, to open up herself to a new world of her friend and to evolve greatly. But nothing as such happened in the book, which disappointed me greatly. The plot is not set properly either. I believe if the history of the main characters was told with more details, I would have understood why the relationship had to be significant to Pilar. The protagonist could have been a thoughtful person, but instead I felt like she was full of drama with unnecessary internal struggles.
Another thing I felt dragged on about this book is that there are too much details that related to Christianity. And as a non-religious person, also a Buddhist, I couldn’t relate to the book. This is not the first time his book use elements of Christianity, but this time is just too intensive for me to digest the details.
Enough with the negativity, how about the good things of By the river Piedra I sat down & wept …
It really is that “all love stories are the same.” like the book said from the beginning. If By the river Piedra I sat down & wept was considered as a simple teaching of how to love a person whole-heartedly, I believe it succeeded. Pilar didn’t understand her lover’s world and the path he chosen for his life. But she was willing to observe his passion for his work and the good outcomes it brings to people around him. His achievements were also her happiness. And she couldn’t let herself be the reason for him to discontinue his work. She was ready to give up her love for him to continue on doing what means the world to him. But he was also willing to leave his work to come home to her. The message is clear that when Love is real, it is mutual.
Love was not only manifested itself in the way Pilar and her lover love each other, it was also in how Pilar slowly learned to love herself as well. She slowly opened up herself to the unpredictability in life, to be vulnerable and caught off guard. She could potentially be hurt like she once did and she was well aware of this fact. But still, she said Yes more, listened to her heart more and was willing to give away Love unconditionally. The only way to be loved is to love. She learned to love herself through loving another person.
Final words …
So this is what I think about the book. I still don’t know under which circumstance would this be a good buy. However, I believe that a book is good if it is able to bring just one good thought that is well articulated. And this book satisfied that requirement of mine. Still, I am open to see other good things about the book. If you see anything else from this book, please share in the comment below.