Eleven Minutes

( 155 )

Overview

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, ...

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Eleven Minutes

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Overview

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.

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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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060589288
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/29/2005
  • Series: P.S. Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 68,016
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Paulo Coelho

The Brazilian author Paulo Coelho was born in 1947 in the city of Rio de Janeiro. Before dedicating his life completely to literature, he worked as theater director, actor, lyricist, and journalist. Coelho wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music, such as Elis Regina and Rita Lee, yet he is best known for his work with Raul Seixas. Together they wrote such successes as "Eu nasci há dez mil anos atrás" ("I Was Born Ten Thousand Years Ago"), "Gita," and "Al Capone."

His fascination with the spiritual quest dates back to his hippie days, when he travelled the world learning about secret societies, oriental religions, etc. In 1982, Coelho published his first book, Hell Archives, which failed to make any kind of impact. In 1985, he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves, since he considered it "of bad quality." In 1986, Paulo Coelho did the pilgrimage to Saint James of Compostella, an experience later to be documented in his book The Pilgrimage.

Biography

His books have been translated into 56 languages, topped bestseller lists throughout the world, and scored him such celebrity fans as Julia Roberts, Bill Clinton, and Madonna; yet for Brazilian publishing phenom Paulo Colho, the road to success has been strewn with a number of obstacles, many of them rooted in his troubled past.

As a youth, Coelho was expected to follow in the footsteps of his father, a professional engineer. When he rebelled, expressing his intentions to become a writer, his parents had him committed to a psychiatric hospital where he was subjected to electro-shock therapy. He left home to join the 1970s countercultural revolution, experimenting with drugs, dabbling in black magic, and getting involved in Brazil's bohemian art and music scene. He teamed with rock musician Raul Seixas for an extremely successful songwriting partnership that changed the face of Brazilian pop -- and put a lot of money in Coelho's pockets. He also joined an anti-capitalist organization called the Alternative Society which attracted the attention of Brazil's military dictatorship. Marked down as a subversive, he was imprisoned and tortured.

Amazingly, Coelho survived these horrific experiences. He left the hippie lifestyle behind, went to work in the record industry, and began to write, but without much success. Then, in the mid-1980s, during a trip to Europe, he met a man, an unnamed mentor he refers to only as "J," who inducted him into Regnum Agnus Mundi, a secret society that blends Catholicism with a sort of New Age mysticism. At J's urging, Coelho journeyed across el Camino de Santiago, the legendary Spanish road traversed by pilgrims since the Middle Ages. He chronicled this life-changing, 500-mile journey -- the culmination of decades of soul-searching -- in The Pilgrimage, published in 1987.

The following year, Coelho wrote The Alchemist, the inspirational fable for which he is best known. The first edition sold so poorly the publisher decided not to reprint it. Undaunted, Coelho moved to a larger publishing house that seemed more interested in his work. When his third novel (1990's Brida) proved successful, the resulting media buzz carried The Alchemist all the way to the top of the charts. Released in the U.S. by HarperCollins in 1993, The Alchemist became a word-of-mouth sensation, turning Coelho into a cult hero.

Since then, he has gone on to create his own distinct literary brand -- an amalgam of allegory and self-help filled with spiritual themes and symbols. In his novels, memoirs, and aphoristic nonfiction, he returns time and again to the concepts of quest and transformation and has often said that writing has helped connect him to his soul. While his books have not always been reviewed favorably and have often become the subject of strong cultural and philosophical debate, there is no doubt that this self-described "pilgrim writer" has struck a chord in readers everywhere. In the 2009 edition of the Guiness Book of World Records, Coelho was named the most translated living author -- with William Shakespeare the most translated of all time!

Good To Know

Few writers are able to accomplish what Coelho can in just two to four weeks -- which is how long it takes for him to write an entire novel.

Before become a bestselling novelist, Coelho was a writer of a different sort. He co-wrote more than 60 songs with Brazilian musician Raul Seixas.

Coelho is the founder of the Paulo Coelho Institute, a non-profit organization funded by his royalties that raises money for underprivileged children and the elderly in his homeland of Brazil.

In our interview with Coelho, he shared some fascinating facts about himself:

"I have been practicing archery for a long time; a bow and arrow helps me to unwind."

"In writing, I apply my feminine side and respect the mystery involved in creation."

"I love almost everything about my work, except conferences. I am too shy in front of an audience. But I love signings and having eye contact with a reader who already knows my soul."

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    1. Hometown:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Date of Birth:
      August 24, 1947
    2. Place of Birth:
      Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    1. Education:
      Left law school in second year
    2. Website:

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.

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Reading Group Guide

Introduction

Maria is 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, yet ends up working as a prostitute.

In Geneva, 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.

Discussion Questions

  1. In what ways is Maria's process of self-discovery similar to the rites of passage all young women experience?

  2. Of all the turning points in Maria's life, which was the most crucial and why?

  3. Why do you think Paulo Coelho chose a prostitute as a protagonist for a parable on the sacred nature of sex? Can you think of other memorable literary figures who resemble Maria?

About the author

Born in Brazil, Paulo Coelho is one of the most beloved storytellers of our time, renowned for his international bestseller The Alchemist. His books have been translated into 56 languages and published in 150 countries. He is also the recipient of numerous prestigious international awards, among them the Crystal Award by the World Economic Forum, Frances's Chevalier de l'Ordre National de la Légion d'Honneur, and Germany's Bambi 2001 Award. He was inducted at the Brazillian Academy of Letters in 2002. Mr. Coelho writes a weekly column syndicated throughout the world.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 155 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(77)

4 Star

(44)

3 Star

(24)

2 Star

(7)

1 Star

(3)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 155 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 25, 2006

    Amazing view on a seemingly tired subject

    I really enjoyed this book. It really puts a different outlook on sex and love, and it makes you step back and think about not only the story but also your own life. A must read!!!

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 20, 2010

    Amazing!!!

    This is my first book by Paulo Coelho and I've become in love with his writing after reading "Eleven Minutes" Its a great story with a broader meaning , at least thats what I got from it. It has changed my outlook on life and in certain aspects I can relate to Maria. I would definitely reccommend this book to others.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 25, 2010

    perspective

    We always have questions about love and sex and sometimes forget to give ourselves a chance. This novel takes romance out of love and makes it even more meaningful. It is about personal aspirations and finding true love getting there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 16, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Totally Outstanding & Intoxicating Tale.

    This insightful story is about a young woman named Maria. She is filled with desires, and dreams. Maria's journey to Geneva thru sex, prostitution & love. She learned plenty from her experiences and clients, but when Maria has encounters a young artist named Ralf. Who enlightens Maria with not only sex, history, also soul searching and love.

    Paulo Coelho's writing was excellent and sensual. He did a marvalous This novel was such a page turner that it was so hard to put down. I loved it alot. The story was very moving and unforgetable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2009

    LOVED IT!

    This is definitely one of my favorite books from Paulo Coelho. He presents a different perspective of sexuality and he does it well. A must read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 5, 2009

    An unusual and striking story about a young woman who has issues about sex. She decides to become a prostitute and the author does not spare us graphic details of the sex relationship. She finds meaning in her life through her work.

    Coelho is a master with words, so much so that one has to be careful when reading him to pay due diligence to the writing in order to stay with him and understand. He takes on a subject matter in Eleven Minutes that is not for the timid or moralistic. The story deals directly and powerfully with sex. There is a lot of plain talk, and the descriptions are as graphic as can possibly be. As her life as a prostitute begins, the protagonist views sex as divorced from love and as love not entering into our experience. But a strong relationship develops between her and a customer which in the end turns to love. If you are squeamish about scenes of sado-masochism this is probably not the book for you. It is through what may be considered strange means that her favorite customer acts as her svengali, and the final resolution of the book is potent. Well-written if not an unusual book that forces the reader to open his mind and see things in a new way.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 19, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Excellent, sensual, inspiring.

    This book is not about sex or prostitution; it's about love and dreams and reminds us that everyone is allowed to have both. Only Coelho could transform a prostitute saga in an inspiring life history. As you read each page, you will feel sorry for Maria, you will judge her, you may even not like her but it will be impossible to put down the book until you find out what happens at the end.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 16, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Eleven Minutes from a Master.

    Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho is a reminder that the oldest profession is not always the chosen profession. Sometimes economical realities make the decission. Maria is a stranger in a strange land and must survive. Maria starts out as a small town girl with big dreams and she naively believes that they are being fulfilled. She learns the hard way however she keeps dreaming and planning for a brighter future. A future where the void she feels is filled. What I found mesmerizing about Eleven Minutes is that Maria never gave up. She never settled for her lot in life. There was always a rainbow that would shine tomorrow. And she was always willing to follow where her heart and mind would venture. What made the story was the characters that she met who she learned from. She learned pain and she learned healing. Eleven Minutes is a testament of life.
    I highly recommend Eleven Minutes but I caution young readers; some teenagers might not be ready for the lessons that this book teaches. Eleven Minutes does not take a stand on prostitution, it is just a means for telling the story. Love is the true Apex of the story. Read Eleven Minutes, you will thank yourself for doing so.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 12, 2009

    Hard to put down

    I read this book in two days. I was an dramactic and intellectually stimulating book. I recommended it to anyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 20, 2007

    Sensitive and Insightful

    This is the first Coehlo book I read. I loved it! It was sensitive and thought provoking. A definite must read!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2006

    A Story that Will Move You...A Story Every Woman will relate to....

    This was my first experience with this author and I was completely captivated. This tale pulls you in from the beginning and seduces your mind and senses.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2013

    Not what this Christian expected from Coelo.

    I loaded this book expecting to be inspired, but this is not one of Coelo's usual works. If your looking for something to challenge or inspire you like "The Alchemist" pick another of Coelo's books. This started out with some "health class" descriptions of sex, and for the most part it is a story of self discovery of finding that we can be capable of falling into and becoming anybody that we don't want to be. I did not expect such erotic descriptions toward the end of the book though. I kept reading looking for the golden nugget and never found it. I never found anything in this book that inspired or changed me. I almost felt deceived into reading it. If your looking for a little bit of 50 shades of grey mixed in with pretty woman, go for it. I just wish I had been warned before about what this book is. I wouldn't of loaded it had I known.

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  • Posted December 6, 2012

    This is my favorite Coelho book so far!! And I must say.. I've r

    This is my favorite Coelho book so far!! And I must say.. I've read a lot! if not all of them. The way it's told is just amazing, I read this in less than a day (Yup, that hard to put down). I wish I would have had a highlighter near while reading because there are some beautiful quotes here but since I was too into the story I didn't even bother to look for one. I love it

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2012

    Another Gem

    I loved Brida and this book is now my new favorite. I stopped several times to soak in the dialogue between Maria and Ralf. Such a passionate story of live, life, and surrendering to both in pain and pleasure.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 23, 2012

    Page turner

    Amazing couldnt put down

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2012

    Very good book

    Very stimulating book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2012

    I really enjoyed this read.

    I really enjoyed this read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 6, 2012

    Couldn't stop reading

    Great book. Really makes you think

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2012

    Paulo Coelho is awesome

    This book was very good. Paul always uses a story to give a deeper meaning. Loved this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 25, 2012

    Stw Stephanie

    It is amazing, I read it in spanish

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