the witch of portobello by p coelho

She dies.  Athena. Don’t worry, though, I haven’t spoiled anything.  It is through the death of the main character that the book begins the journey through the people who had been in her life.  The “people” include her ex-husband, adoptive mother, landlord, teacher of calligraphy, an actress, a journalist, and a historian.  Paul Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello has a writing style that vividly captures and embraces a character who doesn’t (physically) exist in the book.  It takes a lot of creativity, imagination and brilliance to speak of somebody’s life after death; and to incorporate the “living” energy of divinity and love.

Growing up as a rather eccentric child, Athena seemed to be a constant worry-factor for her parents.  Her audacity to indulge in how she lived her life since a young age represents the power of female independence and a constant thirst for knowledge & answers.  Coelho, as he did in The Alchemist, writes with a lot of philosophical implications.  As Athena transforms and matures into a soulful woman of her time, she begins to question her relationships, her surroundings, and most importantly, her purpose in life.  It’s funny how the discovery of the answer to the purpose of life often times heavily stems off from a spiritual quest.  Athena, who is adequately content with herself and her life, unleashes her questions and emotions to those who care enough to listen to her.  The various characters who speak of their perspectives on Athena in alternating chapters hold different dimensions of her personality and spiritual caliber.  And by reading the different point of views, Athena’s character comes to a complete understanding.

It was a bit of a drag, though, in the middle.  But other than the slow-paced plot development between the beginning and end, it was a good read.  I would like to recommend The Alchemist more than this Coelho.

dee’s rec: 3/5

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