The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho is a novel that leaves an impression. Wonderful book for anyone on their own spiritual journey or has a fascination with how legends are made. The mode of narration reminds me of Tracks by Louise Erdrich in the way it shows how a woman becomes a legend and how she is viewed by other people rather than how she views herself. It is amazing how we see other people compared to how we see ourselves or how we think they see us, then we are surprised to find they have a different idea. Perspective is everything.
The “author” investigates the mysterious protaganist Athena’s past by interviewing the people that knew her, giving the reader a full range of emotions and impressions about her along with how she progressed to being a priestess able to channel the wisdom of the goddess. A guru that became a guru by chance or destiny rather than by advertisement. She gains the attention of many but in the end she draws the attention of fanatics and zealots who wish her harm or at the very least want to break down her following by discrediting her.
I felt a kinship with the character, Athena. Doing things her way, feeling her faith, swimming in it, becoming emersed to drowning. I’ve cried, rejoiced, felt the fire of bravery, courage, passion, and understand the trance in her dance. All through other characters’s eyes. Those who loved or wanted to, her teachers, her family, those who respected and detested her.
I really enjoyed this book. I can tell when I’m learning something from a book because I cannot it read in two days. I have to savor it, absorb it. It took me close to three weeks to read this with a book inbetween just to give me a break. Some people might not have this reaction, I do not want to repel anyone. That’s just how I know I’m getting something out of a book.
Highly recommended. I give this a ten for originality in story and narration. I think for some pagans who are familar with the concepts in this book it might be tedious given the explanations it gives but it’s still a good read.