The Witch of Portobello
By: Paulo Coelho
I had been waiting for this book to come out on paperback for some quite time. The story basically follows the question of who Athena was, according to interviews from many of the people who knew her. The narrative is interesting that way, presented as a series of interview monologues about Athena. The theme for this novel has to do with being true to oneself even if a) one is not sure who he or she is and b) the world is telling you you cannot be this person or that. It’s an interesting premise and there are some good points that are raised throughout the novel. However, I didn’t connect to this novel as well as his previous novels. My sympathy for Athena dwindled down with each interview and despite the symbolism and her concerns, I couldn’t entirely grasp why Athena impulsively did the things that she did. For example, she impulsively decided to have a child but then at times it seemed like she didn’t care for the child. And then rising to the level of a spiritual icon…it wasn’t inspiring or thought-provoking but just downright weird. The really interesting bit about this book was at the end and the discovery of who made the compilation of interviews to begin with. Overall, I think this was not the greatest I’ve read from Paulo Coelho; it was an okay read, but his previous work are far more interesting and far more inspiring.