Cover image for Eleven minutes : [a novel]
Title:
Eleven minutes : [a novel]
Author:
Coelho, Paulo.
Personal Author:
Uniform Title:
Onze minutos. English
Edition:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Harper Collins Publishers, [2004]

©2004
Physical Description:
273 pages ; 22 cm
Language:
English
Added Author:
ISBN:
9780060589271

9780060589288
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

A new, international bestseller by the author of The Alchemist tells 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. Instead, she ends up working as a prostitute.

In Geneva, Maria drifts further and further away from love as she develops a fascination with sex. Eventually, 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.

In this gripping and daring new novel, Paulo Coelho sensitively explores the sacred nature of sex and love and invites us to confront our own prejudices and demons and embrace our own "inner light."


Author Notes

Paulo Coelho was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on August 24, 1947. As a teenager, he wanted to become a writer, but his parents wanted him to pursue a more substantial and secure career. At the age of 17, his introversion and opposition to his parents led them to commit him to a mental institution. He escaped three times before being released at the age of 20. Once released, he abandoned his ideas of becoming a writer and enrolled in law school to please his parents. He stayed in law school for one year.

In 1986, Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, a turning point in his life. On the path, he had a spiritual awakening, which he described in his book The Pilgrimage.

Before becoming a full-time author, he worked as theatre director and actor, lyricist, and journalist. He wrote song lyrics for many famous performers in Brazilian music including Elis Regina, Rita Lee, and Raul Seixas. His first book, Hell Archives, was published in 1982. He has written over 25 books since then including The Alchemist, Brida, The Fifth Mountain, The Devil and Miss Prym, Eleven Minutes, The Zahir, The Witch of Portobello, Like a Flowing River, and Adultery. He received numerous awards including Las Pergolas Prize, The Budapest Prize, Nielsen Gold Book Award, and the Grand Prix Litteraire Elle. In 1996, he founded the Paulo Coelho Institute, which provides aid to children and elderly people with financial problems. In 2007, Coelho was named a Messenger of Peace to the United Nations.

(Bowker Author Biography)


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Coelho, author of the best-selling The Alchemist (1993), opens this compelling tale with the classic phrase, Once upon a time\xc9 , then halts and ironically addresses the reader regarding the appropriateness of using these words in connection with a prostitute. But the narrator proceeds nonetheless, alternating between third-person narration about the heroine and first-person excerpts from her diaries. Maria has been refused many things while growing up in a Brazilian village, so she readily agrees to travel to Geneva, where promised stardom as a South American dancer awaits. Once there, however, she is duped into a year's work to repay her passage. She manages to wrangle free, and chooses prostitution as a temporary solution, all the while equating love with suffering, and using the local library for self-education and her journal for self-expression. As she records her thoughts, she ponders the meaning of 11 minutes: the time it takes to have sex. Coelho tells us sex is civilization's core problem, and that it's far more serious and worrisome than waning rain forests or the hole in the ozone layer. A gripping exploration of the potentially sacred nature of sex within the context of love, this may well become Coelho's next international best-seller. --Whitney Scott Copyright 2004 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

"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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved


Library Journal Review

New territory for an internationally best-selling author: a prostitute learns the meaning of love. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

Eleven Minutes A Novel Chapter One 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 travelling 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. Eleven Minutes A Novel . Copyright © by Paulo Coelho. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Eleven Minutes: A Novel by Paulo Coelho All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.