Tuesday, November 4, 2014

By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept

This might be the last book from Coelho which was still in my to-be-read pile. I have expected it to be good, as I have read many good reviews about it, and even my father recommended it to me. But it turned out to be a bit flat. It is the story of a Spanish young woman, Pilar, an independent woman who was searching for a greater life than hers at present, as a college student. One day a letter came from her childhood friend—on whom she had had a crush when they were at school—asking her to meet him. Eager to add sparks to her dull life, she decided to accept the invitation.

Pilar then learned that he has become a famous spiritual teacher who could perform curing miracles. He told her that he never stopped loving her; in fact he has entered a seminary, and now was in the middle of making an important decision, of to whom he should give his life for: the Church, or the woman he loved most. Pilar at first trusted her logical sense that he was just a childhood crush; that falling in love with him would ruin her perfectly-organized life. But this time her heart betrayed her sense, and she was soon falling in love with him. One only problem: he was going to be a priest; what must she do to keep him for herself?

While accompanying him for several days, Pilar—who had been cold towards God and her Catholic faith—started to learn his spiritual ideas about the feminine side of God. This part was where this book twisted to an unexpected theme, theology; and suddenly the atmosphere became slightly thicker. I am a conservative Catholic, and I am not sympathizing with Charismatic movement. Of course it is just my principle, and I can’t blame the author—any author—to have different branch of faith from mine; but in course of reading a book, this difference would make me uncomfortable, and it affects my whole view of the book. It cannot be justified, perhaps, but I just can’t help it.

On the last chapters, I just could not wait to finish this book. I just wanted to know, will he continue to become a priest or will he marry Pilar. After reading this, I feel that my taste is no longer with Coelho’s works, and I don’t think I would ever read his next books. His prose is still beautiful, but I believe it is me who has changed. Now I prefer books which are more down to earth; reflecting real life, and not just idea. With this book, I cannot relate my emotion or thoughts with the characters; they are too surreal and too far for me.

For all that, I granted three stars for By The River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept.


I read Indonesian translation, published by Gramedia Pustaka Utama

This book is counted as:


  1. Aku cuma baca Alchemist dan Fifth Mountain, pas baca yg ketiga, Aleph, aku trus memutuskan gak akan baca lagi bukunya Coelho..his work just doesn't fit me anymore

    1. Lah kok sama? Selain Alchemis, Devil & Miss Prym bagus juga kok. Tapi aku bacanya udah lama, entah kalo sekarang masih bisa "relate" gak. Apa ini akibat kita makin banyak baca klasik ya, Esi? :D

  2. Hi, Fanda! I came across your blog from BBI Aggregator. Salam kenal dari Bogor ya! :D I've always wondered what is so good about Coelho's books... I only read The Alchemist and that didn't leave a lasting impression :-/ I also feel that his books contain a vague spirituality, somewhat New Age-y... but that might just be me.

    Perpus Katolik (http://perpuskatolik.wordpress.com)

    1. Hi Anna... Salam kenal juga (what is the English phrase for this? :D). Aku suka baca blogmu lho!

      Actually I liked The Alchemist. But I have read it years ago, and I don't know what would be my feeling if I read it now. Considering what you read, I suggest you to try The Devil and Miss Prym. It's very interesting story about the fight between good and evil.