Eleven Minutes
  • Eleven Minutes
  • Eleven Minutes
  • Eleven Minutes
<Previous >Next

Eleven Minutes

4.1 155
by Paulo Coelho

View All Available Formats & Editions

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

See more details below

  • Checkmark 3 for $30: Select Paperbacks  Shop Now


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.

This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.

Editorial Reviews

Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“A rare combination of craftsmanship, imagination and inspiration.”
The Washington Post
Sacred sex. A paradoxical, utopian impossibility or a life- sustaining, attainable goal? This is the major question that underpins Paulo Coelho's new novel, Eleven Minutes, the tale of Maria, a naive young woman from Brazil who becomes a high-class prostitute in Switzerland. (The title of the book refers to the hypothetical average duration for an act of coitus.) And while Coelho comes down firmly in the end for the reality of a holy carnality, the path he takes to that affirmation acknowledges completely the snares and labyrinths awaiting any explorer of the fusion of body and soul. — Paul Di Filippo
Publishers Weekly
"Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria"-thus begins Coelho's latest novel, a book that cannot decide whether it wants to be fairy tale or saga of sexual discovery, so ends up satisfying the demands of neither. In his dedication, bestselling Brazilian novelist Coelho (The Alchemist) tells readers that his book will deal with issues that are "harsh, difficult, shocking," but neither his tame forays into S&M nor his rather technical observations about female anatomy and the sad but hardly new fact that many women are dissatisfied with their sex lives will do much to shock American readers. In Maria, however, the author has created a strong, sensual young woman who grabs our sympathy from the first, as she suffers unrequited love as a child, learns a bit about sex as a teenager and, at 19, makes the ill-advised decision to leave Rio on a Swedish stranger's promise of fame and fortune. Maria's trials and triumphs-she goes from restaurant dancer to high-class prostitute-would make for an entertaining if rather prosaic novel, but Coelho, unfortunately, does not leave it there. Instead, he embarks on a philosophical exploration of sexual love, using Maria's increasingly ponderous and pseudo-philosophical diary entries as a means for expounding on the nature of sexual desire, passion and love. At the end, the story boils down to a rather predictable romance tarted up with a few sexy trappings. (Apr.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
New territory for an internationally best-selling author: a prostitute learns the meaning of love. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The Brazilian Coelho, whose inspirational fables have sold about 50 million copies in 150 countries in 57 languages, at times persuades reviewers with his talent but often is seen as gucky and spiritually challenged. Here, he returns to a theme first picked up in By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept (1996), a tale in which sex and God are whipped into a tasty mayonnaise. Eleven Minutes, while reminding us that sex is sacred, is more persuasively written, perhaps because it feels taken from a real life. Coelho says his story was born when a prostitute named Maria (or Sonia) approached him and asked if he knew what it was like to live without love. The novel's Maria learns of sex through masturbation, first as a child and later as an adolescent. When she loses her virginity (at 16 or 17), she finds self-sex more satisfying and heavenly than intercourse, although she forces her deflowerer to return and make love to her several more times. Nope, solo's better-though loveless. At 19, she takes a job at a draper's shop, strings her lovelorn boss along for raises while putting him off from her bed. Love only makes you suffer, so forget it. A vacation on the beach in Rio leads to her being signed as a Samba dancer and flown to Geneva, where she dances in a family restaurant but is a prisoner, gets fired, gives her photo to model agencies, trusts in her own intelligence, charm and willpower, but in the end, guiltlessly, becomes a well-paid regular prostitute at Geneva's expensive Copacabana. But is she frigid-or will the artist Ralf Hart, as uninterested in sex as she, discover the eleven minutes she needs from the commencement of sex to orgasm (an idea Coelho adapts from Irving Wallace's TheSeven Minutes)?Down-to-earth dialogue and detail about classy whoring: one of Coelho's strongest.

Read More

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
P.S. Series
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.72(d)

Read an Excerpt

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria. Wait a minute. "Once upon a time" is how all the best children's stories begin and "prostitute" is a word for adults. How can I start a book with this apparent contradiction? But since, at every moment of our lives, we all have one foot in a fairy tale and the other in the abyss, let's keep that beginning.

Once upon a time, there was a prostitute called Maria.

Like all prostitutes, she was born both innocent and a virgin, and, as an adolescent, she dreamed of meeting the man of her life (rich, handsome, intelligent), of getting married (in a wedding dress), having two children (who would grow up to be famous) and living in a lovely house (with a sea view). Her father was a traveling salesman, her mother a seamstress, and her hometown, in the interior of Brazil, had only one cinema, one nightclub and one bank, which was why Maria was always hoping that one day, without warning, her Prince Charming would arrive, sweep her off her feet and take her away with him so that they could conquer the world together.

While she was waiting for her Prince Charming to appear, all she could do was dream. She fell in love for the first time when she was eleven, en route from her house to school. On the first day of term, she discovered that she was not alone on her way to school: making the same journey was a boy who lived in her neighborhood and who shared the same timetable. They never exchanged a single word, but gradually Maria became aware that, for her, the best part of the day were those moments spent going to school: moments of dust, thirst and weariness, with the sun beating down, the boy walking fast, and with her trying her hardest to keep up.

This scene was repeated month after month; Maria, who hated studying and whose only other distraction in life was television, began to wish that the days would pass quickly; she waited eagerly for each journey to school and, unlike other girls her age, she found the weekends deadly dull. Given that the hours pass more slowly for a child than for an adult, she suffered greatly and found the days far too long simply because they allowed her only ten minutes to be with the love of her life and thousands of hours to spend thinking about him, imagining how good it would be if they could talk.

Then it happened.

One morning, on the way to school, the boy came up to her and asked if he could borrow a pencil. Maria didn't reply; in fact, she seemed rather irritated by this unexpected approach and even quickened her step. She had felt petrified when she saw him coming toward her, terrified that he might realize how much she loved him, how eagerly she had waited for him, how she had dreamed of taking his hand, of walking straight past the school gates with him and continuing along the road to the end, where-people said-there was a big city, film stars and television stars, cars, lots of cinemas, and an endless number of fun things to do.

For the rest of the day, she couldn't concentrate on her lessons, tormented by her own absurd behavior, but, at the same time, relieved, because she knew that the boy had noticed her too, and that the pencil had just been an excuse to start a conversation, because when he came over to her, she had noticed that he already had a pen in his pocket. She waited for the next time, and during that night-and the nights that followed-she went over and over what she would say to him, until she found the right way to begin a story that would never end.

But there was no next time, for although they continued to walk to school together, with Maria sometimes a few steps ahead, clutching a pencil in her right hand, and at other times, walking slightly behind him so that she could gaze at him tenderly, he never said another word to her, and she had to content herself with loving and suffering in silence until the end of the school year.

During the interminable school holidays that followed, she woke up one morning to find that she had blood on her legs and was convinced she was going to die. She decided to leave a letter for the boy, telling him that he had been the great love of her life, and then she would go off into the bush and doubtless be killed by one of the two monsters that terrorized the country people round about: the werewolf and the mula-sem-cabeça (said to be a priest's mistress transformed into a mule and doomed to wander the night). That way, her parents wouldn't suffer too much over her death, for, although constantly beset by tragedies, the poor are always hopeful, and her parents would persuade themselves that she had been kidnapped by a wealthy, childless family, but would return one day, rich and famous, while the current (and eternal) love of her life would never forget her, torturing himself each day for not having spoken to her again.

She never did write that letter because her mother came into the room, saw the bloodstained sheets, smiled and said:

"Now you're a young woman."

Maria wondered what the connection was between the blood on her legs and her becoming a young woman, but her mother wasn't able to give her a satisfactory explanation: she just said that it was normal, and that, from now on, for four or five days a month, she would have to wear something like a doll's pillow between her legs. Maria asked if men used some kind of tube to stop the blood going all over their trousers, and was told that this was something that only happened to women.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >