The Witch of Portobello

I had been reading Paulo Coelho’s The Witch of Portobello for some time, and finally finished it over the weekend. And, as usual, I am here to rant about it. 🙂

The synopsis of the book attracted me greatly – mainly the excerpt that said “Athena’s greatest problem was that she was a woman of the twenty-second century living in the twenty-first, and making no secret of the fact either. Did she pay a price? She certainly did.” I read this, and I just knew I was ready to read the book.

I simply loved the concept of the book – as the excerpt makes it clear, it is about this woman called Athena who is ‘different’. She believes in following her heart, thinking out of the box, and her actions are quite often outside the limits of what is considered ‘acceptable’ by the society. She is branded as a ‘witch’, and faces a lot of difficulties in pursuing her chosen path. I could relate to Athena in a lot of ways, as I am sure a lot of modern-day women would.

The issues presented by Coelho left me feeling a lot sad – for the Athenas of this world and for the society which will not accept them. I liked the way Coelho has developed the story of Athena – short descriptions about Athena by the people who knew her.

However, overall, I would say this is not my most favourite of Coelho books. It failed to touch me the way other books of his have so far. The description felt limp at places. I missed the way I enjoyed reading other books of his – deep, requiring me to stop reading and contemplate at places.

Not exactly my cup of Coelho. Would give it 2.5 stars. Maybe you’d like it better than I did?


OT Update:

Country covered – Brazil

Read-o-meter: 4 down, 6 more to go.



Filed under Reading Ramana

13 responses to “The Witch of Portobello

  1. This is not Coelho’s best yet it has something in it that makes u read it ahead. It took a long time too to complete reading it but no regrets.

  2. priyaiyer


    that was quick!
    exactly. that is just the way i felt. you seem to echo my thoughts exactly. 🙂

  3. hey, I think I too did not like the summary so kind of avoided reading the book, however
    I hated Brida so much, I am kind of avoiding Coelho for sometime now

  4. Nice crisp review. I haven’t picked up Paulo Coelho in a very long time now and I should probably pick this one up since it sounds interesting. My favourite so far has been ‘Veronica Decides To Die’ in addition to the Alchemist of course. Thanks for the review…

  5. priyaiyer


    i actually liked the summary of the book a lot. it was the description in the book that i didn’t like so much. yet, i found there was something in the book that held me till the end. probably, i wanted to see what happened to Athena. 🙂


    hey, welcome back! thanks! 🙂
    i loved alchemist too, as well as coelho’s manual of the warrior of light and like the flowing river. have been wanting to read veronica decides to die for quite some time now. will check it out soon.

    do let me know how you liked the witch of portobello, if you decide to read it. 🙂

  6. Nice review..was to the point. Somehow I haven’t been reading Coelho recently. The last was ‘like the flowing river’, will sample this sometime soon.

  7. Hey,
    Even I dint find this piece as great as other books by Paulo. Definitely “The Alchemist” was the best read ever!

    Did you get a chance to pick up “Eleven Minutes” ? This was another good one from him.

    I am yet to read his “The WinnerStands Alone”. How about you?

  8. priyaiyer


    thanks! do let me know how you liked this book, if you do read it 🙂


    i liked the alchemist a lot. read eleven minutes last year and liked it too, but a little less than the alchemist. i just loved like the flowing river and manual of the warrior of light by coelho. two of the best reading experiences i had.

    not yet picked up the winner stands alone. looking forward to read it. 🙂

  9. id think 3/5 is fair.
    and do try by the river piedra i sat down and wept.its pretty to alchemist only on my list…

  10. priyaiyer


    i have the ‘by the river piedra i sat down and wept’. tried reading it long back, but somehow couldn’t get past the first few chapters. got to check it out once more 🙂
    as for the witch of portobello, didn’t like it enough to give it a rating of 3. to each his own 🙂

  11. seriously! it took a world of time to finish this one! but i was so curious to know the ending that i read on!

    I have another Coleho to read, the one you gifted me with 🙂 Thank u.

  12. priyaiyer

    @ veens

    my thoughts exactly!

    you are most welcome, dearie. hope to read your thoughts on ‘like the flowing river’ soon! 🙂

  13. Pingback: OT ‘09 wrap-up « uniquely priya

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