Review: Eleven Minutes (Paulo Coelho)

Another love story (because one can never read too many romance novels) and this one is written by Coelho. I got the book as a birthday present and realized that my dad also has this book but I’ve yet to touch the book, so when I got it for my birthday maybe it was the universe’s way of saying “read the damn book!”. So I listened to the universe, naturally.

This book, wow. Maria is this innocent girl living in a small village somewhere in Brazil, but she has such huge curiosity for love and by the way she writes in her diary, I think she is a writer in the making. I mean the stuff she thinks for someone her age is beyond me.

It’s actually pretty standard to start off with. You know like girl from small village, girl goes to the big city (Rio), girl meets some random guy who offered her a job, then girl goes “to see the world”. I thought at this point she would get beaten or get involved into some human trafficking complication, but no violence was involved although she did land herself with a rather dodgy status in a foreign land called Switzerland (I thought she was gonna end up in France for some reason).

Switzerland, I think is a pretty decent country to work in as I’ve lived there during my student years but I don’t know how it is to be in Switzerland if you are a foreign worker, a sex foreign worker to be exact. I don’t know why Coelho chose this name, Maria, as I have always associated the name with purity and innocence though who am I to judge a name?! However, I do think it suits her personality somehow because she is kind of innocent in a way.

Anyway, the setting of the novel is in Geneve, which of course I’ve been several times when I was in Europe and it is always nice when I read something that is set in a place that I’ve been to, though I have never been to Rue de Berne, or maybe I have but have never realized it. So Maria’s complicated life for me started when she met Ralf, the painter, who claimed to have seen her “inner light”. That’s when things got out of hand and complicated. And just because this book talks about sex a lot, it is not an erotic kind of book, it describes all Maria’s sexual encounters in a really elegant way and I praise Coelho for that.

For me Maria is more than just a prostitute. She is witty, smart and she loves books! Her meeting with Ralf only makes her smarter, especially on the matter of love and sex, and that’s why I love Ralf too. Their relationship is so intense that it gave me the chills while reading. I do however think that Maria sometimes overthinks too much, like how she is leaving Geneve because she is afraid their differences would destroy their special bond, but she actually doesn’t want to leave and wants Ralf to make some kind of romantic gestures to stop her (which he does, of course). Reading this, I was like “girl, you think too much!”.

At one point of the book, I was scared that it would become 50 Shades of Grey-ish, that was when Maria met Terence, the Englishman. I’m glad it didn’t though and I really like the way Coelho is somehow in touch with his feminine side as we all know the sexual problems faced by Maria are all real. Real women actually go through with it every single day and most of them fall in silence, never discussing it with their partner for reasons such as shame. So bravo Coelho!

In the end, I wondered if Maria ever did buy that farm for her family back in Brazil because it looks like they kind of need it (not that it was the point of the book, but you know I am an over thinker myself). It is a great novel in my opinion, discussing issues that need to be heard more.

Eleven Minutes Book Cover Eleven Minutes
Paulo Coelho

Eleven Minutes is the story of Maria, a young girl from a Brazilian village, whose first innocent brushes with love leave her heartbroken. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love, instead believing that "love is a terrible thing that will make you suffer. . . ." A chance meeting in Rio takes her to Geneva, where she dreams of finding fame and fortune. Maria's despairing view of love is put to the test when she meets a handsome young painter. In this odyssey of self-discovery, Maria has to choose between pursuing a path of darkness -- sexual pleasure for its own sake -- or risking everything to find her own "inner light" and the possibility of sacred sex, sex in the context of love.

Just a girl standing in front of a bookshelf, deciding what to read next.

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