Friday, June 25, 2010

The Witch of Portebello

The Witch of Portebello is the third Paulo Coehlo novel I have read.  I have to say that The Alchemist, so far, is still my favorite.

The Witch of Portebello describes the life leading up to the death of the main character, Athena, through a handful of people who interacted with her.  Narrators include her adoptive mother, her ex-husband, a journalist, a priest, her landlord, her teacher, and an actress.  While I had enjoyed the storyline, I actually had a hard time following parts because the narrator switched so often.  I found myself needing to flip back a couple pages to remind myself who was detailing that specific part of the story.

There are quite a few hidden references to Christianity and Catholicism that I didn't recognize at first.  I guess, just as in high school English class, I have proven that I am blind to allegory writing.  I get so tangled up in the characters and their lives that I miss out on the big-arm-waving-this-symbolizes-this picture. 

I did enjoy the plot though, except I found myself being annoyed at Athena.  She seemed so stand-offish to the journalist who so obviously is in love with her.  I thought for sure that their conflict would resolve itself and be an either happily ever after or bittersweet end, but it was neither.  I actually found myself on the last page thinking "That's It?"  and having to re-read the pair's last scene together.

I recommend reading the Alchemist, then if you liked it, give this one a go....maybe you could explain some of the bigger picture ideas to me.

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