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The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho

The Witch of Portobello (original 2006; edition 2007)

by Paulo Coelho (Author)

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3,312703,045 (3.31)77
How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves--even if we are unsure of whom 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.… (more)
Title:The Witch of Portobello
Authors:Paulo Coelho (Author)
Info:HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd (2007), Edition: New title, 304 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Witch of Portobello by Paulo Coelho (2006)

  1. 10
    The Zahir by Paulo Coelho (leosabana)
    leosabana: Tiene frases realmente hermosas, que te ayudarán en el día a día; que te aportarán ánimos cuando no veas luz.

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» See also 77 mentions

English (59)  Spanish (7)  Portuguese (1)  Italian (1)  French (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (70)
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
i like the idea here of finding meaning in the spaces between - in the breath between spoken words, in the pause between drum beats. but that's about all i can take from this book. i didn't find his perspective to be worth much; as an example most of the women characters at some point made these blanket statements about women or female society that just sounded like what men would say/think, but that didn't ring true to most women or these characters in specific. but mostly i didn't care because i wasn't into the book at all. ( )
  overlycriticalelisa | Oct 10, 2021 |
I had not read anything by Paulo Coelho before, so thought this would be a good opportunity to do so. I don't know if I will read anything more by him. I did learn how to pronounce his last name, which was one goal I had.

An author should think hard about having a book of this sort read aloud. The format is a collection of statements by many different people, so the reader must be able to convey a sense of each of these persons by altering her voice somehow, or the different parts need to be read by different actors. I really wish that others had been involved in reading.

Instead, we have Rita Wolf trying to create each of these characters, using different accents primarily, and sometimes different tones of voice. I found the different accents incredibly annoying. Some of them tended to speak mostly at one tonal level - one key - which became almost a monotone, and always the speaking was as a person who struggles with speaking English (the original novel was written in Portuguese so it is hardly a true representation).

I found her representations of the males not particularly effective either, regardless of accent. Worst of all, for me, was her presentation of the primary character, Athena. Athena is young but driven, yet her voice was wispy, childlike. Ugh.

The story: Athena was the child of a gypsy, adopted by Lebanese parents. She was a baby at adoption, yet her parents were warned not to adopt her because of her parentage. At this point I had misgivings about this story: would Athena grow to become part gypsy too? Of course she would.

Athena, whose name was actually Shareen (I do not know the spelling), was bound to question her life, where she was going, what her purpose was. She first found purpose in dancing, when she was a young woman working at a bank. Yes. Her landlord taught a type of dance that involved a lot of percussion, that brought energy and insight into its practitioners. Athena found that this dancing transformed her into someone stronger, more capable, and so she "taught" it to others at the bank, who also became better than they were.

in time Athena learns that there is more than one way into this "soul" of hers - or rather, to connect with The Mother, the Goddess. For that is what she did, and when she did so she was able to see into others' bodies, even to diagnose illnesses. Naturally, this skill attracted others, and Athena took no pains to hide it. She felt she had to give what she had to give. But of course there was a backlash by fundamentalist Christian leaders, who called her the devil and her followers Satanists and worse.

That's the short version. We learn her story through, as I said above, the statements of others in her life: her mother, her "teachers", her lovers, her employers.

The story presumably tells of the power of love, and yet I did not feel that when I listened to it. Instead, I felt that it was so much navel-gazing, literally in some cases. It felt very egotistical. The messages offered by Athena and others like her were old, hackneyed messages we have all heard before. Yet purportedly Athena was ahead of her time. Not to me she wasn't. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
طيب بغض النظر عن عدم اتفاقي مع حكاية الأم اللي ف الكتاب دي لكنه كطريقه عرض و اسلوب و حبكة تمام اوي اوي
يمكن فيه اجزاء كتير حبيتها ف الكتاب
و اجزاء عشان مش تتفق معايا اوي عديتها و مشيت ف الكتاب
يمكن الاجزاء دي هي اللي خلت تقييمي للكتاب يقل واحد ( )
  Reem.Amgad | Jun 3, 2020 |
Novel terjemahan bahasa Indonesia
  dinoroy.aritonang | May 19, 2020 |
It took me a little while to figure out this novel, but it had me fascinated by the end. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Aug 14, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (72 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Paulo Coelhoprimary authorall editionscalculated
Coelho, Paulomain authorall editionsconfirmed
Janssen, PietTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KariTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Risvik, KjellTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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O Mary conceived without sin,
pray for those who turn to you.


No man, when he hath lighted a candle,
putteth it in a secret place,
neither under a bushel, but on a candlestick,
that they which come in may see the light.

--Luke 11:33
Dla S. F. X. - słońca, które rozsiało światłość i ciepło wszędzie, gdzie zawitało; wzoru dla tych, którzy sięgają myślą poza swoje horyzonty.

For S.F.X.,

a sun who spread light and
warmth wherever he went,
and was an example to all those
who think beyond their horizons
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No one lights a lamp in order to hide it behind the door: the purpose of light is to create more light, to open people's eyes, to reveal the marvels around.
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How do we find the courage to always be true to ourselves--even if we are unsure of whom 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.

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