Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Witch of Portobello

The Witch of Portobello, another fascinating book by Paulo Coelho, greeted me at a small bookstore at Soekarno Hatta airport last week. It immediately landed in my hand for an exchange with a couple of banknotes equal to IDR.90,000.

It was a perfect companion to liven up the time during a three and a half hour flight to Bangkok on my way to attend a meeting. After putting my camera and my travel bag in a safe place, my eyes started jumping between blank spaces to read the words that made up the sentences.

Imagineabookwithoutblankspacelikethis, how would it be? Itwillbeabitdifficulttocomprehend, right? It's the blank spaces which gives meaning to a sentence, says Coelho in the book. Just like the pauses which make wonderful music. There are blank spaces in everyone's life that need to be understood to make one's souls composed and calm.

The Witch of Portobello is a story of a gifted Gypsy young woman named Sherine Khalil, or Athena as she prefers to call herself, from the perspectives of people, such as:
  • a journalist who falls in love with her but never posses her physically;
  • an actress who hates but accepts her as a teacher;
  • a doctor and a witch who becomes her psychic teacher;
  • her adopted mother who took her from an adoption center in Transylvania, Romania, since she was a baby;
  • an engineer and ex-husband who loves her so much but then decided to ask for a divorce, leaving her alone with her beloved son, Viorel;
  • a priest who admires her talents but then abandoned her due to a rigid rule of a church;
  • owner of an apartment where Athena once lived, who introduced her with "the Search for the Vertex" spiritual dance originated from a remote village of Diedov, somewhere in Siberia;
  • a Bedouin who lives in the dessert of Dubai who becomes her teacher in revealing the secret of calligraphy;
and with a final notes from a detective at Scotland Yard, Athena's boy friend, who transcribed all the taped interviews for her.

Wisdom and provoking thoughts are abundant in this 268 pages of the book. With an open heart and mind, and a little imagination, you will surely be inspired and learn something from the book, regardless what your faith is.

The English version of the book was first published in May 2007 in hardcover, and the international printing that I bought was published in March 2008. Highly recommended.


  1. I like this qoute:

    "There are blank spaces in everyone's life that need to be understood to make one's souls composed and calm".

    Knowing that,... makes me feel comfort about my self.

    Thanks for the recommendation pakdhe. It's very inspiring. Kapan2 saya cari deh bukunya.

    (duh, tumben yach saya nulis comment serius banget, hehehe... :-) )

  2. @Silly stupid: as in words and music, that blank spaces or pauses are necessary to make life more meaningful nduk, and to be graduated to a higher class of life; unfortunately we tend to regret and feel bad about it, and hence can not learn and stay where we are.

  3. Good information.!!?... how are you Mr... ?

  4. so, is it a novel? humm, i have heard that word, "that silly said" in a novel of dee "filosofi kopi" ..
    humm, so who's the first man that declare that word , u think Sir? may be Dee like that novel too..
    oh ermm, link back to me OK.. i ve put your URL

  5. @articletechnology: i'm doing fine bung, hope u do the same :D

    @Fauzan Sigma: who first got the wisdom sometimes is not important bung; the fist one who reveals it just need to be thankful that he or she was chosen, but the wisdom does not really belong to him or her...

  6. Doakan segera kebeli, pengen banget baca buku ini.

    PErtama kenal dg paulo coelho, dari buku eleven minutes, hehehe. rada memalukan ya. Karena asik, dibaca semalam langsung selesai. Biasanya kalau baca novel bisa 3 hari atau seminggu. Tapi eleven minutes,,, tau kan? hehehehe.

  7. Setelah membaca promosi Mas Bambang ttg buku ini, saya langsung search di Google. Eh ternyata Paulo Coelho punya blog juga. Dan asiknya lagi, buku Witch of Portobello telah diposting chapter demi chepter oleh Mr. Coelho. Dan saya baru selesai baca Chapter Two-mya. Langsung aja ke Baca disini. BTW, thanks you for sharing Mas Bambang...

  8. @Alex Ramses: iya bung, it's really inspiring... hope you are doing well there....

    @.:: AG. SYAM ::.: aku pernah ke blog-nya juga bung, tapi gak merhatiin kalau di posting juga di sana :), hanya memang tidak seluruh bab. Still, it's very nice of him... Happy reading.

  9. Mas, akhirnya baca juga ya:)
    Kata-kata yg buat saya mau pingsan: "Love is not a habit, a commitment, or a debt.
    It isn't what romantic songs tell us- Love simply is.
    Love is. No definitions.
    Love and don't ask too many questions. just love."

    well, it's our weakness, right? also it's our greatest strength:)

  10. weh, iya ya nduk, aku baru inget bahwa kamu sudah merekomendasikan untuk membaca buku ini di postingan the Alchemist :).
    buku yang provokatif dan inspiratif nduk; membuka pula wawasan tentang sihir tari yg juga dilakukan oleh para darwis pengikut Rumi, serta rahasia kedalaman ilmu kaligrafi... suwun ya nduk...

  11. blm baca. yg 'by the river piedra I sat and wept' katanya juga bagus, ya? udah baca, mas? sini pinjemin dong :D

  12. @venus: yang piedra itu keknya aku sudah beli deh versi indo-nya, tapi blum sempet dibaca, dan skarang gak tahu di mana....:D. wis tak kasih wae daripada pinjem, wong paling gak balik juga, he...he... :D

  13. When you saw the lines :
    Imagineabookwithoutblankspacelikethis are you sure you wear your peeper when you read it? (he he) or is it really written like that? cuz' you've told me you forgotten to bring your glasses when you need to shoot a panorama in Bangkok...

    Don't answer that, i should buy the book and read it for my self (hehe)

  14. @Trisna: of course I intentionally wrote like that nduk, I put on my glasses :). That's to give a real example of how inconvenient it is reading a book without blank spaces. The blank space is as important as the filled ones.

  15. eh? really now? sini2 kirimin bukunyaaaa.....



  16. Ah, baca juga akhirnya Pak Bambang. :) i read this last year Pak, pas baru kluar langsung beli di borders heheh. Anyway, i still recommend you read other Coelho's books. Fifth Mountain and Zahir,all his books deh :p, esp Manual Warrior of The Lights. Agak jarang nemu sih di Indo, kayaknya di Periplus atau aksara suka ada stok tuh pak. Or kalo lagi maen keluar ya, langusng masuk toko buku2 :D

    Anyway, Coelho just released new book 'BRIDA', i havent read, masih ngarep dibeliin buat bday present heheheh

  17. @venus: lhah kirimnya ke mana mboke, ke hong kong :D? Cuma punya satu, wis siapa yg duluan saja deh...

    @yulidarmawan: iya nduk, satu-satu ya, secara maren beli beberapa malah blum dibaca satu pun :D.
    bday kan masih lama nduk, eniwei nyicil ucapan selamatnya :)

  18. hi there,

    you've got mail :D

  19. @venus: kek judul fim saja... awas virus....:)

  20. sy juga lg baca ni... belum selesai.. tinggal 40 halaman. penasaran.. apa ini real story??

  21. @dee: purely fiction saya kira...