The Witch of Portobello is the story of a mysterious woman named Athena, told by the many who knew her well - or hardly at all.
"People create a reality and then become the victims of that reality. Athena rebelled against that - and paid a high price."
-Heron Ryan, journalist
"Athena's great problem was that she was a woman of the 22nd century living in the 21st. Did she pay a price? She certainly did. But she would have paid a still higher price if she had repressed her natural exuberance. She would have been bitter, frustrated, always saying, 'I'll just sort these things out, then I'll devote myself to my dream,' always complaining 'that the conditions are never quite right.'"
-Deirdre O'Neil, known as Edda
Like The Alchemist, The Witch of Portobello is the kind of story that will transform the way listeners think about love, passion, joy, and sacrifice.
©2006 Paulo Coelho; ©2007 Margaret Jull Costa; (P)2007 HarperCollins Publishers
"Best-selling fabulist Coelho continues to transform his trademark combination of mysticism and storytelling into spellbinding examinations of the human soul....Narrated from multiple points of view, the portrait of Athena that emerges is as provocative and spiritually complex." (Booklist)
Although I admire the intent behind "The Witch of Portobello," I was disappointed that a writer as significant as Paulo Coelho was not able to create what I suspect he intended. I have to acknowledge how hard this kind of book is to write: a "message" book that assumes this kind of narrative structure is just asking for trouble from the get-go unless much more developed. Coelho has an initially unnamed "reporter" collect narratives from several people whose lives touch "The Witch's" and we readers are to believe that Athena (how is that for cliche name!) profoundly impacts life after life when she is depicted as a two-dimensional character whose new age style pronouncements and teachings are meant to stir the reader and those who come into contact with her with soul-moving prophecy and rapture. I think it's possible to write such a book, but it's extraordinarily difficult, and it doesn't work here. The New Age pronouncements come across as thinly-disguised authorial preaching. Messianic characters only work if you believe in them -- okay to dislike them-- but in this case, the entire atmosphere feels so very false. I think Coelho could have taken a more mythic approach and this novel could have worked, he could have made of this novel a much deeper sort of fable or parable, or he could have fully developed a gritty, more fully realized novel. But he didn't take this book in any of those directions. He mixes too much of the mundane with cliche and platitude so that the book becomes to me, a muddle. I wish he would have pushed the book further in one direction or another, but as it stands now it's a raw sketch that doesn't work.
A tale spun in a way that gets you thinking and then rejoicing. A necessary "hearing" quite revealing, amazing, thrilling and well done! Paulo writes with a passion to transform. This tale uncovers the feminine side of God. A MYTH = A dance with a thought that never was. THE WITCH OF PORTOBELO = An allegory, or Cohelo's tremendous interpretation of a meaning other than a literal definition.
An honest woman, unlimited, untamed, and free to connect with the sacredness of being female. The heroine, a woman disentangled from the "shoulds" and "musts" in order to lavish in the eternal delight of being true to that which needs no explanation.
"The Witch of Portobello" is a daring response to an unconventional spiritual path. Living the RICH extreme opposing emotions of: the sensual and, the pure. The thin, the fat. The depressed, the enthusiastic. The believer, the naysayer. The wife, the divorcee. The saint, the sinner. The physical, the spiritual. The word witch is full of judgement and prejudice in the religious world. This story speaks to the courage it takes to leave the tribe, to wonder, to explore - without guilt, that which one is drawn to.
Authentic living at large, laughing, and enjoying the thrill of a full range of emotions is the choice of the Witch of Portobello.
I loved the Alchemist, but this book was just awful. What was so genius about the Alchemist is that it was an interesting story that taught you something. this story was way too heavy handed and just plain dumb. What a disappointment.
I love to read but have little time, so Audible is my new best friend!
This is a typical Paulo Coelho story. It features a strong female protagonist on a journey to discover herself amidst some very trying circumstances, some of which are beyond her control and others that are of her own making.
Her narration of male characters all sounded the same to me.
This was a well put together narrative of how the encounters with others in our lives change the person we are and ultimately the person we become.
I loved this story. It has been an honour to experience, and the story has become a part of my life in more ways than I can explain.
Addicted to Audible!
This was my first book by this author and now I am hooked. I enjoyed it so much that I needed to buy it in print. I enjoyed the written copy even more.
Very different style compared to his other books however its well written and the story is put together very well.
luv to learn
The Good- I appreciate the author's different styles of writing, and if I had not read other works from the author maybe I would not have understood some of his personal reflections in this work. It is better than ok but not quite worth the rating of good. I would give it 3.5 stars. I will probably listen to this book one more time and then it will just sit in my library. The Bad- I HATED the music in between chapters... Very off putting and I was not crazy about the narrators presentation at all. I found myself confused by the different characters and I blame part of that on the narrator. Maybe I will get more out of this book the second round... But I doubt it.
I absolutely devoured this book. I just couldn't stop listening!! The narrator does an a gorgeous job differentiating the many characters in this one as well as putting so much life and feeling into her voice. Great story too!!
I feel that the method of delivery the author chose to tell the story somewhat hampered the overall ability to describe a spiritual journey. Coello chose to tell his story by a series of interviews, so some of the truth is muddled with rumor and spite by the surrounding characters. Well that made for good drama, I feel that it miss the mark for what he was trying to accomplish with this story. I really couldn't get a sense what the journey was supposed to be like for the main character because this.
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