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By The River Piedra I sat Down And Wept – Paulo Coelho

Spirituality, Mysticism, Optimism and Love. thy name is Paulo Coelho. After I finished reading ‘The Alchemist’ , my expectations from ” By the River Piedra I sat Down and wept…” was high and I was surely not disappointed. I could sense the same aroma of Paulo’s brilliance as I did with ‘The Alchemist’. The only difference I believe is , this novel rides high on religion.

A tale of two lovers, “By the River Piedra…….” is a beautifully crafted love story, blended with composed actions,exotic locations, powerful characters and mesmerising folklore which certainly makes it an inspiring journey. Pilar, a student in the town of Zaragoza was suffocated with her daily life until she encounters her childhood friend whom she knew since her early days in a Spanish village Soria. The plot unfolds dramatically when Pilar realises that her friend has now become a renowned spiritual leader, which embraces femininity of God – paganism (Great Mother), the ancient fertility goddess, the Virgin Mary. And not only that ,her friend has the power to work miracles as well. Meanwhile, Pilar receives an invitation from hes friend for a spiritual event in Madrid where she is faced with a blunt truth- her friend’s love for her which he harnessed right from their childhood. And as he leads her on a magical journey through the French Pyrenees,which includes stays at hostels and visits to churches and chapels, the two find themselves at the monastery at Piedra where the two had spent time as young kids.It is here Pilar begins to realize that this chance encounter is
going to transform her life forever and that her friend must ultimately choose the path of his own life, his love or his spiritual journey.

At this juncture, Paulo subtly introduces ” the other” !!! A conflict we all have within ourselves and deal with as human beings.The part of our own psyche, the confusion, sense of denial, the fear and host of other emotions that prevents us from achieving what we aim for.Just like the fear of failure in “The Alchemist” prevents us from acheiving our goal…”I am afraid that great disappointments waits me, so I prefer to dream..”. In the same way the fear of rejection prevents lovers from expressing their feelings, their love. Pilar wonders and worries, as a result of the existence of ‘the Other’ that lives within her, what will happen to the love that she has for her friend and vice verse.

The magic of Paulo’s novels lies in his characterisation…so real …so down to earth. The moment you hit the first two pages you tend to flow with the characters and actually start living their lives. The characters and situations are so well crafted that you reach to another world with their dreams and fantasies. I found myself engulfed in Pilar’s world all through and as the novel ended I felt the way I should after reading any good book- happy and satisfied.. The novels definitely gave me a high, it leaves with lot of things to feel good about, also to think and relate to your own life.
“By the River Piedra….” is great. An excellent storyline written with even more excellent techniques.It is indeed a great read, thanks to the linguistic genius of Paulo. Paulo’s underline message through this novel is simple,… there are no rules when it comes to love, as there are no rules when it comes to worshiping the Almighty.As he puts it “to love is to be in communion with the other, and to discover in that other the spark of God”. The only limitation I feel is the spiritual inclination of the novel. The presence of the Goddess in friend’s life and his dilemma of choosing Pilar’s love, or accepting the duties for the betterment of the world, might hang lillte superficially on the readers mind. Paulo also talks about discovering spirits and through these lovers,  he wants to tell his readers that anyone and everyone can speak the language of angels and perform miracles. Little difficult to comprehend his idea of religion and God though.There is always an air of mysticism that lingers in his novel and “By the River Piedra……” is no exception.Readers who are used to Paulo’s style of writing will understand the depth of his words but for others it might end up being little absurd and vague.

Nevertheless, I must admit that Paulo’s novels are anytime a pleasure. A friend of mine after reading this novel said, ” I wish I were Pilar” and goes on to add… Paulo through this book made me believe that to love someone is to love life itself…..Perfect !!!!

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