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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.
10 of 11 people found this review helpful
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.
9 of 10 people found this review helpful