Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Witch of Portobello

The Witch of Portobello is the 6th book I have read among the Paulo Coelho books. It's evident that I am a big fan of this writer. It all started with the Alchemist; and it still is my most favorite Paulo Coelho book. But this post is not all about the Alchemist, it's my summarization and a little insider about The Witch of Portobello.




I must admit that I was not too keen on this book two or three years ago. I was reading the first few pages of this book at a bookstore and I was confused on how the writer presented the story. It was written by a third person's point of view. Interestingly enough, when I tried to read the book this time around, I was amazed at how the transcriptions from various people came together to write the story of a woman, Athena, who was gifted to guide the people around her find their happiness and calling in life. This book challenges you to use your free will, to find your inner self, to strip yourself of the society's set rules and norms.

In the book, Athena, the lead character, one day decided to leave her university studies. In Athena’s words, “Most of my parents’ friends and most of my parents’ friends’ children also have degrees. This doesn’t mean that they’ve managed to find the kind of work they wanted. Not at all; they went to a university because someone, at a time when universities seemed important said that in order to rise in the world, you had to have a degree. And thus, the world was deprived of some excellent gardeners, bakers, antique dealers, sculptors, and writers.” 

In the usual Paulo Coelho style, this book is about love. The writer in a radical way tackles the common issues in the world today such as love in different forms (i.e. eros, a mother's love, friendship, etc.). Love may not be able to conquer all and "love simply is". Athena pursued her dream of having a baby and getting married during the time she left the university. She married an engineering student who also left the university after a disagreement with his parents regarding his marriage. Eventually, they divorced; Athena's ex-husband realized that "he was in a life that he had chosen in the belief that love conquers all. And it isn’t true. Sometimes love carries us into the abyss, taking with us – to make matters worse – the people we love."

This book also addresses spirituality and religiosity. You must have an open mind to spirituality in various forms to really appreciate this book and not find it weird or atheistic.


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