"The Witch of Portobello", by Paulo Coelho

The Witch of Portobello - Margaret Jull Costa, Paulo Coelho

This is a compelling work of fiction about a woman (Athena) born in Transylvania to a Romani mother who left her in an orphanage and was later adopted by a wealthy Lebanese couple and raised in London. It is one of those books that dig into the mysteries of the transcendental world and one that blends the mundane life with the esoteric. This tale is a sure recipe not to please everyone but without any doubts this story is thought-provoking and will appeal to those with an avid interest in transcendentalism and divinity.

“ The Witch of Portobello” starts with the death of the main character, Athena, her life story is alternately told from the points of view of the people who knew her: her adoptive mother, her ex-husband, a journalist researching vampires, a priest, her landlord, a teacher of calligraphy, a historian and an actress. They each provide a different view of her, describing not only what they saw and experienced but adding their own impressions, interpreting her through their own beliefs and fears but we never learn what Athena really thinks herself. 

This book is complex, challenging and pushes the boundaries of our imagination. The intriguing premise is heavily laced with references to religion, spirituality and mysticism. Was the purpose of this book to question our own spirituality? Well this is a thought to ponder over…. The plot started well, was captivating enough and definitely quite original but ….isn't there always a but…. midway the author’s rambling lost me in the mumble jumble of all that New Age stuff and those gullible characters eventually got on my nerves. This story was way too creepy for my taste.