Sunday, May 20, 2007

A Review Just for You: Coelho's "Witch of Portobello"

The Witch of Portobello marks a great stylistic departure from The Alchemist. I was pleasantly surprised to observe Coelho's authorial skill and flexibility. The language and format of Witch of Portobello is more sophisticated and therefore left no doubt in my mind as to the deliberate, almost childlike simplicity of The Alchemist.

Coelho is obviously interested in presenting his readership with themes involving the pursuit of dreams, spirituality, contentment, etc. He examines such ideas by featuring main characters who actively seek the aforementioned themes, often showing his characters struggle and fight the vast majority's opposition and condemnation.

Witch of Portobello is a novel written in documentary format and features a magnetic, enigmatic, unconventional protagonist named Athena. Athena's character is unveiled through a series of intriguing interviews* featuring her acquaintances, family, friends and lovers. Certain aspects of the interviews may seem difficult to rationalize or accept, as the dialogue frequently teeters on the edge of unbelievable.

The above is all very indicative of Coelho's work. In order to enjoy and appreciate it, you've just got to --as my favorite English teacher often said-- "willingly suspend your disbelief." If you can't muster up the effort to do so, Coelho's work probably isn't for you.

Coelho's passionate dedication to propagating the message "follow your dreams" is what makes him so interesting. I don't mean to sound like some kind of book evangelist. That sort of thing really irritates me, so I hope this review isn't having that effect...However, I believe "there's a hat for every head" and if you find a way to extract all of the hype surrounding Coelho and his work, reading only for yourself, then you might find something entertaining and valuable within his simple, compassionate message.

The Witch of Portobello was just released on May 15th, so stop in and see if we have any left in stock! I'm sure Alchemist fans will love Coelho's latest tribute to freedom of the human spirit. If you've read anything by Coelho and have any opinions about his work whatsoever, feel free to comment up a storm. Either that, or stop by the Inkwell and chat up a storm. I'm expecting some kind of storm here, folks. Don't disappoint me!

*Readers who enjoy novels featuring a variety of voices and perspectives might also enjoy Getting Mother's Body by Susan-Lori Parks and My Name is Red, by Pulitzer prize winning author, Orhan Pamuk...(not to mention nearly everything by William Faulkner).