Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Witch of Portobello

Organising my thoughts about this book isn't easy. Let me first say that I've read several Paolo Coelho books in my life. Some of them I loved - like The Alchemist and Veronika Decides to Die. Some of them were only ok. After reading The Devil and Miss Prym last year, I pretty much decided that I would stop at that. But my Mom had read The Witch of Portobello and said that it made her think of me and that I'd really like it. So I read it.

I should have liked it a lot more than I did. The main character of Athena is someone I would have really identified with when I was younger. Many facets of her behavior and belief system still appeal to me and yet I didn't find her as fascinating as she could have been. I didn't want to jump into the book and follow her. But that's what I wanted to want, which made me feel let down in the end.

Coelho is known for inspirational books, for themes like spirituality, destiny and finding one's path. The Witch of Portobello was no different here - Athena was a quest to discover herself and to spread teachings ruled by love and by nature. I love those themes and believe a lot of the same myself. That we are all part of one, that we can each reach a 'higher' level, that nature and earth is what we come from, that worshipping is being part of, etc. I won't bore you with details. :-)

But somehow the writing disappointed me - I didn't feel inspired. Although I did get something out of reading this. It made me think of some of the things I used to think about and forgot as I got older. One of them is that filling my life with stuff and tasks and activities doesn't do me and my development any favors. I've forgotten how important it is to just be. Just sit and do nothing, connect with myself and my surroundings. This is very difficult for me, so maybe I intentionally forgot! But it's something that I think is a good thing to work at, so I'll try.

The other issue I used to think about and now don't is awareness and how that developes intuition. I always believed that I knew the answers to all my questions somewhere deep down, that I knew which path to take, which decision is the right one for me. But my intuition was never developed enough to completely trust it - outside influences like wishes and thoughts played too big a part in there. One of the excercises used to develop intution is working at being aware of one's surroundings. Like when you walk down a street, you should practice noticing everything around you. I'm the opposite - I tend to get lost in my thoughts (or more recently my audiobook!) and ignore what's around me. This is something I'd like to get back to.

Reading The Witch of Portobello also made me want to read about Gypsy beliefs. Anyone know of any good books on this subject?

Challenges: A-Z Challenge, 999 Challenge, Latin American Reading Challenge, Lost in Translation, Spiritually Speaking


Lezlie said...

I've never read anything by him, but I'd like to this year. Maybe I'll start with Veronika Decides To Die. You liked it, and it's on the 1001 List if I'm not mistaken.


joanna said...

Yes, it is Lezlie. Maybe I was just at a different stage of life then, but that one really did inspire me.

Iliana said...

Veronika Decides to Die was great wasn't it? I've not read anything else by him and it seems that he's one of those authors that you either love or hate. I'm going to give him another try one of these days.

joanna said...

I used to love him and now I have to admit to being on the fence. He does have some interesting ideas though and I'm often tempted by his books!