Friday, April 11, 2014

The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coehlo | Book Review


From one of the world's best loved storytellers, Paulo Coelho, comes a riveting novel tracing the mysterious life and disappearance of Athena dubbed 'the Witch of Portobello', which was a top ten Sunday Times bestseller in hardback. This is the story of Athena, or Sherine, to give her the name she was baptised with. Her life is pieced together through a series of recorded interviews with those people who knew her well or hardly at all -- parents, colleagues, teachers, friends, acquaintances, her ex-husband. The novel unravels Athena's mysterious beginnings, via an orphanage in Romania, to a childhood in Beirut. When war breaks out, her adoptive family move with her to London, where a dramatic turn of events occurs! Athena, who has been dubbed 'the Witch of Portobello' for her seeming powers of prophecy, disappears dramatically, leaving those who knew her to solve the mystery of her life and abrupt departure. 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. 
Description taken from: Kalahari


This is a story based on Athena, or Sherine Khalil (her name changes a few times throughout the course of the book). She is a woman who has never been afraid to explore the world, experience what it has to offer and search for a greater meaning in life. She was a restless soul, always keeping herself busy, learning new things and discovering hidden talents – in many ways, I related to her in that aspect. Sometimes I noticed my entire body scattered with goosebumps by just how much some of the paragraphs summarized who I am as a person up perfectly. It was awakening and yet spine-chilling all at once.  

The thing that I found most interesting about this book was that you 'know' that Athena has been murdered in the beginning. The book works in chapters of other people's experiences with her, almost as if each character introduced into the story is being interviewed about her life. The concept was unique and fascinating! 
 
*
 
Abandoned as a new born by her Gypsy mother, Athena was adopted and taken out of Romania by two loving parents in Beirut. They brought her up with a strong religious vocation – to the extent that she dreamed of becoming a saint one day. From a young age, Athena started having visions of a lady in white as well as having the ability to see things that have not yet occurred. As life progressed, Athena felt it was her mission to get married and have a baby – she strongly believed that was her purpose in this world. So she did just that and gave birth to a son. After his birth though, her marriage started to slowly take strain until her husband eventually left her. The church she visited religiously (haha) forbade her from receiving sacrament after her divorce as it was against their rules. This is when things spiral out of control for her and she sets off on a journey to find her birth mother in the gypsy community in Romania, hoping that it will help fill in the ‘blank spaces’ in her life.

Along her journey both in meeting her birth mother and her journey thereafter, Athena met many interesting souls that taught and guided her – slowly transforming her into who she needed to become.

Overall, an absolutely beautiful and riveting read filled with lessons and messages. A must read if you like Paulo Coehlo books or simply have a deeper understanding of the world that we live in. It is a wonderful concoction of magic and spirituality.




Sometimes, while I’m reading a book I find quotes, quips and messages hidden in the writing. I make small notes and highlight certain areas of the book. I have included a few photographs of things that stood out to me in this book – on every page there was something beautiful to be said; something incredible to digest.





I'll end today's post with this... 

Have you ever read Paulo Coehlo's biography?? It is incredible - the things he had to go through in his life are both inspiring and at the same time, heart-wrenching. 
He is an incredible man and deserves so much praise for what he has produced - he stuck to his passion no matter what. As should we.
post signature

16 comments:

  1. It seems to be a lovely book and now, I really want to read it! When I was younger I read half of 'Veronika Decides to Die' but I didn't end it because I found it quite complicated; I was like 12, it's obvious I wouldn't understand it all!
    Anyways, my mum has a huge collection of Paulo's books and she loves them, he's a very special person and the way he writes, my God! He has something that makes you feel pleased, understood and good. He's a genious, seriously.
    I'm going to add this book to my books-to-read list! Haha thank you for the review, it's lovely! :)

    camstalks.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've actually always wanted to read that book by Paulo Coehlo - but I can imagine at 12 years old it might be a bit heavy??
      Paulo Coehlo is definitely a very special person - he's brilliant. A complete genius.. I agree.

      Hope you enjoy this read Cams xxx

      Delete
  2. Ooo, I'll definitely have to check this out! You make it sound so interesting!

    ReplyDelete
  3. nice review jade. would look for this book up at our local bookstore. i would love to read it. wish me luck! i love how you underline quotes you love. i also do that when reading. what struck me the most was the "don't confuse the teacher with the lesson" quote, so true :) thanks for sharing. this inspired me to read again :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Angel, thank you for your lovely comment.
      Good luck with finding this book - I hope you do and that you enjoy it as much as I did! xxx

      Delete
  4. Very nice post and so interesting the highlights. I will check for this book at the library. I am your new follower (No 315)

    Regards,

    www.agirlinafrica.com

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Diana! Lovely meeting more SA bloggers xxx

      Delete
  5. This sounds really interesting, thanks for sharing. It's amazing when you can relate to a character that much. This will always have an impact on me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Imogen - it was an amazing read xx

      Delete
  6. Oh my gosh! I've just read The Alchemist and I loved it! I didn't know he'd written so many other books. I have to check this one out. It sounds captivating. Thanks for the snippets, too!

    Audrey
    www.lululinden.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Audrey! I read The Alchemist so long ago I'll have to re-read it!
      Only a pleasure - hope you enjoy the read x

      Delete
  7. Interesting post! Thank you for the update!
    http://www.fabuloustorture.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Ah, you've been reading again... :) Sounds yummy, Jade! I did something I know you'd highly approve of--this past weekend. Took a little journey a few states away and wandered. It was an adventure and I thought of you and your adventuresome spirit. :) It inspired me! T. http://tickledpinkwoman.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm always reading - sometimes it just takes longer than expected to finish a book :) Things get busy.. as they do.. hehe.

      I loved this comment Tina, it really warmed my heart and I found it so very special. Thank you xxxxx

      Delete

Thank you for leaving a comment on my blog - if you supply your blog page I will be sure to check it out and leave a comment in return!

Jade