Eleven Minutes by Paulo Coelho
Published by Harper Perennial
I read this for 2017 Popsugar Reading Challenge. The category is ‘‘a book that’s been on your TBR List for way too long’. I chose this book simply because it’s one of the oldest unread books in my collection.
WHAT’S IT’S ABOUT
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.
Once upon a time there was a prostitute called Maria.
WHAT I THOUGHT
I picked up three Coelho novels in a charity shop years ago. The other two were quite enjoyable. Unfortunately, Eleven Minutes was not my cup of tea. I enjoyed reading about certain aspects of Maria’s life; her struggles to find her place and the let-downs and disappoints that lead her to become a prostitute. The immigrant aspect of this novel was interesting. Unfortunately the whole ‘sacred sex’ thing left me cold and had more than a whiff of bullshit about it. Eleven Minutes is a very bland and colourless book. I didn’t feel like I’d been transported to Brazil or Rio or Geneva as none of these places were brought remotely to life. Maria is also the single dullest fictional character I’ve ever read. She’s bland and insipid. Who knew prostitutes could be so dull? She is desensitised to everything and barely seems human at times. Eleven Minutes was not for me and I think I’ll be giving this author a miss in future.