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How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves—even if we are unsure of who we are?

That is the central question of international bestselling author Paulo Coelho's profound new work, The Witch of Portobello. It is the story of a mysterious woman named Athena, told by the many who knew her well—or hardly at all. Like The Alchemist, The Witch of Portobello is the kind of story that will transform the way readers think about love, passion, joy, and sacrifice.

Topics: Episodic, Philosophical, Mystical, Multiple Perspectives, Spirituality , Orphans, Love, Journeys, Magic, Family, Lebanon, Romania, London, and South American Author

Published: HarperCollins on
ISBN: 9780061877827
List price: $10.99
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Coelho is like an oracle for me...I read all of his books trying to extract the secret messages. I loved this one!!!more
In the beginning of the novel, when the journalist says he wanted to write a biography, but also wanted to be true to the subject's life and so chose to use the interviews he conducted as they were given instead of paraphrasing, I was expecting something really different. I think the set up for how the book would be presented was okay, but the topic itself was just okay. The self-named Athena is a gypsy child given up for adoption and taken in by a couple from Lebanon, despite warnings from the caregiver at the orphanage. She grew up with a strong personality with an innate connection to the spiritual. Like many adopted children, she sought her birth mother and made her peace.Athena becomes a spiritualist, learning by teaching others how to connect to the divine. She develops a large following and many detractors and eventually goes into hiding to escape the drama.more
I completely enjoyed this book. Recommend!!more
sadly the author lost me during the first CD of the audio version. I was reminded of his book BRIDA. here as well I was not able to connect to the characters or the story. THis is jsut oo unreal for me.more
Athena is many things to many people, a witch, a mystic, a bank worker, a dancer, a crazy woman, a mother, a gypsy ... The picture of Athena unfolds in this novel, told by the people who knew her, who hated her and loved her. It's a beautiful story, invoking the goddess and ripe with the potential of female power, both spiritual, magical, and mundane.more
I have an "okay" and hate relationship with this book. I feel that it is hard to judge a book because of its narrative merit, when it's not much of a narrative to begin with. I did enjoy reading about the topic of the feminine side of God even though sometimes it was annoyingly vague "love will manifest itself how the Mother wants..." The parts I found incredibly boring were parts that I felt I was supposed to care about Athena. Athena was as distant to me as a woman I'm reading about in a newspaper. I had difficulty, therefore, "feeling" what she felt. To compensate, I imagined that the reason Athena was never fleshed out was because she was simply used as a medium, a vessel if you will, of knowledge that Coelho wanted to relay to his reader. He uses Athena and a somewhat, but not really, narrative form in order to accomplish this. So I was able to apply what I learned from the book to my life easier because I replaced Athena with me. In a way. Basically, the whole book was not much more than a motivational book with a spiritual side. I imagine this wasn't Coelho's intention at all, but it helped me pull through the book.The book had potential. I liked that Coelho wrote about the many different perspectives from many different characters. What I hated was that they all seemed to be the same perspective. I wanted to read about people who HATED Athena, or thought she was a psycho that needed to be committed. I wanted to read about Andrea being jealous of her, or her boss giving her a hard time. I didn't want the whole book to be so neat and tidy. I wanted to read about what goes on in the minds of real humans and I wanted to see real prejudices and biases. I'm not saying they should be encouraged, but that's real life--and these characters lacked that "realness." Coehlo would have had an excellent way of working through preconceived notions of others to arrive at something deeper and bigger behind the novel. Instead, I felt like I was more told about the "Mother" or else her power was forced on me. The book is either full of lectures or Athena's trances -- trances which I felt were pretty silly.All in all, I won't reserve a spot on my shelf to keep The Witch of Portobello.more
I enjoyed the interview style used. I felt that each character was opening up and reminiscing in complete truthfulness about a woman who touched each differently. Each person viewed a portion of the whole. The end result is a complete picture of the imprint left by a unique young woman. The overall flow of the story felt peaceful. The memories did not feel rushed or overcrowded with unnecessary excitement. It was relaxing reading just before bed.more
A story how woman find her way to go. She finds that everything is not ok! Like many other women have find. The story is told and it´s outside of the principal character, bur she is althoug the center of attention. She is groving on her way. This story of woman is a fiction but quite truth. This story is another way to find wicca as lifestyle. This woman is a bit older than Brida, but both turn to wicca. So when I read both books I have to read a book of Wicca, so that I understand what this stories are. The sotory is interesting and Coelho followes his way to write spiritual things. How to find the meaning of life is the subjekt in many of his books. The way he writes is very interesting and books are easy to read. I recommend this book to read.more
This is another airport bookshop read. The blend of philosophy and story was interesting, though I wish there had been more story. Is it possible to write a good moral parable that's also a good story? This wasn't it.more
The Witch of Portobello started off strong. I enjoyed the exploration of the feminine side of God and religion and the thought that we all know the answers to our questions deep inside ourselves if we only listen. I like how the main character was described only through the voices of others and their direct quotations of her. Skillfully done. Unfortunately, I found the ending a let down, not from a religious point of view but from a plot fizzle point of view. Still, a good book, but no Aha moments like I had with Coelho's other book, The Alchemist. Three stars.more
Cliche-ridden new ageism.more
The Witch of Portobello is a biography of a woman in search of her identity and destiny... a woman constantly in a state of flux and motion, a whirling dervish on a path of enlightenment/self-destruction. This biography, however, is written as an interview with a number of people who came into contact with her during her journey. The story itself was interesting but the dialogue between Athena and her teachers became rather tedious with all of the new age/godess droning. As the story starts with a discussion about Athena's death, the story picks up momentum as the ending draws near, as the reader is left wondering whether the religious ferver she spawned would ultimately lead to her murder.more
Hmm...tough one to review. This was my second novel of Paulo Coelho's (the first being The Alchemist), and they were very dissimilar from one another. In general, some of the descriptive words that I've seen to describe this book are accurate: pagan, new-age, mystic. It's a different kind of read for me, but it does make the reader examine his/her own personal beliefs & almost forces one to make somewhat of a judgment as to the plausibility of such things. Overall, not particularly my style of read as a stand-alone book. However. This will make a good book for a group discussion, I think, and I am looking forward to such a discussion at my upcoming book group meeting. The reader of the audio version of this (Rita Wolf) does an excellent job, by the way, with capturing the various characterizations and dialects.more
Oh dear. Have you ever been in a bookshop with a three-for-two deal, found two books you wanted to read then struggled to find a third? The Witch of Portobello was very much my 'third' book. I'd heard the name Paul Coelho but not really taken much notice and thought this would be a good introduction. The back cover 'blurb' certainly sounded promising. In the event I came away from reading this book with the impression that I hadn't so much read a novel as been preached to about spirituality. Not recommended.more
A good and average read. I am not really into Paganism but I still found the book quite interesting to read. Athena is a fascinating character to get to know.I like Paulo Coelhos style and I am eager to read "Veronica decides to die" soon.more
This was my first book by Paulo Coelho and I got to say the book was such a dissapointment!! I was constantly waiting for the wow factor as well as something larger than life to happen. Propably the worst book I´ve ever read. Hopefully the Alchemist will be better:)more
I normally really enjoy Paulo Coehlo books, but this one I just couldn't get into.more
This is another airport bookshop read. The blend of philosophy and story was interesting, though I wish there had been more story. Is it possible to write a good moral parable that's also a good story? This wasn't it.more
love the first 1/2, towards the end, it got a little too weird for me, however the final scene saved it for me.more
i picked this up in an airport over the holidays - and it was the perfect book at the perfect time. at first i kept almost quitting the book - i was a little unsure - but i kept on reading till i got quite hooked in - it's the first book that i've read that i wanted to re-read even befor i finished it the first time-i lent it to my brother-in-law and will have to get it back from him soon.seems kinda corny and yet not at allmore
I really liked the book up to the point, where supernatural things started to happen. I think the book would have worked fine without this sort of thing.Still, the philosophy about dancing, calligraphy and other disciplines is great. Same goes for the master - apprentice relationships.I also liked Athenas independence, which was so agreeable emphasized by the twist with her boyfriend.more
The main message in this book is to be true to yourself at all times, no matter what situation you may be presented with. A story of a woman seen through the eyse of those who knew her. Transforming.more
The story of a woman trying to find and understand herself, told by the people who knew her. The main message it carries is to be true to yourself at all times no matter what we may encounter.more
Just as Athena struggled with the spaces in her life, I found this book to be all about the spaces between the words, and given that, I don't think any two people will get exactly the same thing from this story. This book is brilliantly written and thoroughly inspirational. I intend to have a high-lighter and bookmarks on hand the next time I read it, and I expect I will read this book many times over the years as a prompt for insight into my own soul.more
Not completely believable, but the device of telling the story through vignettes by characters who knew the protagonist worked very well.more
Fun, introducing old elements of the alchemist in a different, less gendered style. Starts slow and silly but a solid read. more
the way the climax builds is exceptional.. i enjoyed this just as much as i did The Alchemist.. gonna stock my library with all the Paulo Coelhos i can lay my hands on ??umore
Coelho has a hypnotic style that leads you into this world of elegantly creative approaches to life by beautifully drawn characters. As usual, only better.more
Read all 30 reviews

Reviews

Coelho is like an oracle for me...I read all of his books trying to extract the secret messages. I loved this one!!!more
In the beginning of the novel, when the journalist says he wanted to write a biography, but also wanted to be true to the subject's life and so chose to use the interviews he conducted as they were given instead of paraphrasing, I was expecting something really different. I think the set up for how the book would be presented was okay, but the topic itself was just okay. The self-named Athena is a gypsy child given up for adoption and taken in by a couple from Lebanon, despite warnings from the caregiver at the orphanage. She grew up with a strong personality with an innate connection to the spiritual. Like many adopted children, she sought her birth mother and made her peace.Athena becomes a spiritualist, learning by teaching others how to connect to the divine. She develops a large following and many detractors and eventually goes into hiding to escape the drama.more
I completely enjoyed this book. Recommend!!more
sadly the author lost me during the first CD of the audio version. I was reminded of his book BRIDA. here as well I was not able to connect to the characters or the story. THis is jsut oo unreal for me.more
Athena is many things to many people, a witch, a mystic, a bank worker, a dancer, a crazy woman, a mother, a gypsy ... The picture of Athena unfolds in this novel, told by the people who knew her, who hated her and loved her. It's a beautiful story, invoking the goddess and ripe with the potential of female power, both spiritual, magical, and mundane.more
I have an "okay" and hate relationship with this book. I feel that it is hard to judge a book because of its narrative merit, when it's not much of a narrative to begin with. I did enjoy reading about the topic of the feminine side of God even though sometimes it was annoyingly vague "love will manifest itself how the Mother wants..." The parts I found incredibly boring were parts that I felt I was supposed to care about Athena. Athena was as distant to me as a woman I'm reading about in a newspaper. I had difficulty, therefore, "feeling" what she felt. To compensate, I imagined that the reason Athena was never fleshed out was because she was simply used as a medium, a vessel if you will, of knowledge that Coelho wanted to relay to his reader. He uses Athena and a somewhat, but not really, narrative form in order to accomplish this. So I was able to apply what I learned from the book to my life easier because I replaced Athena with me. In a way. Basically, the whole book was not much more than a motivational book with a spiritual side. I imagine this wasn't Coelho's intention at all, but it helped me pull through the book.The book had potential. I liked that Coelho wrote about the many different perspectives from many different characters. What I hated was that they all seemed to be the same perspective. I wanted to read about people who HATED Athena, or thought she was a psycho that needed to be committed. I wanted to read about Andrea being jealous of her, or her boss giving her a hard time. I didn't want the whole book to be so neat and tidy. I wanted to read about what goes on in the minds of real humans and I wanted to see real prejudices and biases. I'm not saying they should be encouraged, but that's real life--and these characters lacked that "realness." Coehlo would have had an excellent way of working through preconceived notions of others to arrive at something deeper and bigger behind the novel. Instead, I felt like I was more told about the "Mother" or else her power was forced on me. The book is either full of lectures or Athena's trances -- trances which I felt were pretty silly.All in all, I won't reserve a spot on my shelf to keep The Witch of Portobello.more
I enjoyed the interview style used. I felt that each character was opening up and reminiscing in complete truthfulness about a woman who touched each differently. Each person viewed a portion of the whole. The end result is a complete picture of the imprint left by a unique young woman. The overall flow of the story felt peaceful. The memories did not feel rushed or overcrowded with unnecessary excitement. It was relaxing reading just before bed.more
A story how woman find her way to go. She finds that everything is not ok! Like many other women have find. The story is told and it´s outside of the principal character, bur she is althoug the center of attention. She is groving on her way. This story of woman is a fiction but quite truth. This story is another way to find wicca as lifestyle. This woman is a bit older than Brida, but both turn to wicca. So when I read both books I have to read a book of Wicca, so that I understand what this stories are. The sotory is interesting and Coelho followes his way to write spiritual things. How to find the meaning of life is the subjekt in many of his books. The way he writes is very interesting and books are easy to read. I recommend this book to read.more
This is another airport bookshop read. The blend of philosophy and story was interesting, though I wish there had been more story. Is it possible to write a good moral parable that's also a good story? This wasn't it.more
The Witch of Portobello started off strong. I enjoyed the exploration of the feminine side of God and religion and the thought that we all know the answers to our questions deep inside ourselves if we only listen. I like how the main character was described only through the voices of others and their direct quotations of her. Skillfully done. Unfortunately, I found the ending a let down, not from a religious point of view but from a plot fizzle point of view. Still, a good book, but no Aha moments like I had with Coelho's other book, The Alchemist. Three stars.more
Cliche-ridden new ageism.more
The Witch of Portobello is a biography of a woman in search of her identity and destiny... a woman constantly in a state of flux and motion, a whirling dervish on a path of enlightenment/self-destruction. This biography, however, is written as an interview with a number of people who came into contact with her during her journey. The story itself was interesting but the dialogue between Athena and her teachers became rather tedious with all of the new age/godess droning. As the story starts with a discussion about Athena's death, the story picks up momentum as the ending draws near, as the reader is left wondering whether the religious ferver she spawned would ultimately lead to her murder.more
Hmm...tough one to review. This was my second novel of Paulo Coelho's (the first being The Alchemist), and they were very dissimilar from one another. In general, some of the descriptive words that I've seen to describe this book are accurate: pagan, new-age, mystic. It's a different kind of read for me, but it does make the reader examine his/her own personal beliefs & almost forces one to make somewhat of a judgment as to the plausibility of such things. Overall, not particularly my style of read as a stand-alone book. However. This will make a good book for a group discussion, I think, and I am looking forward to such a discussion at my upcoming book group meeting. The reader of the audio version of this (Rita Wolf) does an excellent job, by the way, with capturing the various characterizations and dialects.more
Oh dear. Have you ever been in a bookshop with a three-for-two deal, found two books you wanted to read then struggled to find a third? The Witch of Portobello was very much my 'third' book. I'd heard the name Paul Coelho but not really taken much notice and thought this would be a good introduction. The back cover 'blurb' certainly sounded promising. In the event I came away from reading this book with the impression that I hadn't so much read a novel as been preached to about spirituality. Not recommended.more
A good and average read. I am not really into Paganism but I still found the book quite interesting to read. Athena is a fascinating character to get to know.I like Paulo Coelhos style and I am eager to read "Veronica decides to die" soon.more
This was my first book by Paulo Coelho and I got to say the book was such a dissapointment!! I was constantly waiting for the wow factor as well as something larger than life to happen. Propably the worst book I´ve ever read. Hopefully the Alchemist will be better:)more
I normally really enjoy Paulo Coehlo books, but this one I just couldn't get into.more
This is another airport bookshop read. The blend of philosophy and story was interesting, though I wish there had been more story. Is it possible to write a good moral parable that's also a good story? This wasn't it.more
love the first 1/2, towards the end, it got a little too weird for me, however the final scene saved it for me.more
i picked this up in an airport over the holidays - and it was the perfect book at the perfect time. at first i kept almost quitting the book - i was a little unsure - but i kept on reading till i got quite hooked in - it's the first book that i've read that i wanted to re-read even befor i finished it the first time-i lent it to my brother-in-law and will have to get it back from him soon.seems kinda corny and yet not at allmore
I really liked the book up to the point, where supernatural things started to happen. I think the book would have worked fine without this sort of thing.Still, the philosophy about dancing, calligraphy and other disciplines is great. Same goes for the master - apprentice relationships.I also liked Athenas independence, which was so agreeable emphasized by the twist with her boyfriend.more
The main message in this book is to be true to yourself at all times, no matter what situation you may be presented with. A story of a woman seen through the eyse of those who knew her. Transforming.more
The story of a woman trying to find and understand herself, told by the people who knew her. The main message it carries is to be true to yourself at all times no matter what we may encounter.more
Just as Athena struggled with the spaces in her life, I found this book to be all about the spaces between the words, and given that, I don't think any two people will get exactly the same thing from this story. This book is brilliantly written and thoroughly inspirational. I intend to have a high-lighter and bookmarks on hand the next time I read it, and I expect I will read this book many times over the years as a prompt for insight into my own soul.more
Not completely believable, but the device of telling the story through vignettes by characters who knew the protagonist worked very well.more
Fun, introducing old elements of the alchemist in a different, less gendered style. Starts slow and silly but a solid read. more
the way the climax builds is exceptional.. i enjoyed this just as much as i did The Alchemist.. gonna stock my library with all the Paulo Coelhos i can lay my hands on ??umore
Coelho has a hypnotic style that leads you into this world of elegantly creative approaches to life by beautifully drawn characters. As usual, only better.more
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