Author: Paulo Coelho
Synopsis: "The story of a mysterious woman named Athena, told by many who knew her well-or hardly at all." The book is framed as a set of interviews conducted with those who knew Athena, who is dead as the book opens. Athena learns to harness the spiritual powers that have been present but inchoate within her, and the story picks up as she searches for her own solace in peace or love and acquires a teacher and disciples as she and the book speed toward a spectacular end.
Why did I pick it up?: The cover and the title were enough to have me snatch it off the shelf. I was intrigued by the main character's name as well, having already christened one of my own characters with the pseudonym Athena. I guess I am an easy sell.
Favorite Line: "Because the hand that draws each line reflects the soul of the person making that line."
Likes: I loved the way the story read like a regular narrative and not like a collection of firsthand accounts, which it was. The story switches hands naturally and the five main story tellers have beautifully distinct voices. Though each time the reins were passed on the teller's name was listed I eventually did not need to know because their voices told me who they were. Also, the dialogue was engaging and provoking. Through dialogue is the only time we know what the main character, Athena, is thinking and feeling. The conversations are very focused on spiritual understanding, the meaning of love, life's purpose and a myriad of similarly hefty topics but the characters' views and opinions come off as believable and not heavy handed or forced.
Complaints: The first set of interviews (or the first 14 pages) felt like interviews. Wide statements are made about Athena and the mystery surrounding her death. While it did serve to entice my curiosity about the woman and her story, I worried the whole book would be filled with out of step rantings. However Athena's mother takes over and the story flows chronologically from then on. So, it's a very small complaint, but the quality of the last 254 pages made the beginning 14 feel disconnected.
Recommendation: I loved this book. Anyone who loves a good story, appreciates beautiful writing, or who is interest in Wiccan or New Age Ideology would enjoy this compelling story.
Next Week: The Thieves of