Book Review: Eleven Minutes

38fa41f051163c523fbd6427478d9630Publisher:  Harper Perennial
Author: Paulo Coelho
Release Date:  2003
Pages: 273 pages
Format: Paperback
Series: n/a
Genre(s): Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Reviewed by:  easyhappy
Rating: 3.5/5

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. (Source:


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

This is actually the first time I read a book with a prostitute as the protagonist. Since the book immediately revealed its intriguing subject, one might have the impression that it would settle with female slavery and poverty and a series of misadventures; however, it doesn’t. It is quite enthralling how the author gave the main character, Maria, an overwhelming amount of determination and willpower. Although this has caused the plot to be fairly unpredictable, it somewhat made it difficult for me to put myself in her situation or at the very least, think the way she does in some episodes.

The first few pages of the book are very much engaging and may tie you down. However, like any other novels, some parts are quite dragging. The author, in this story, tries to provide insights on self-discovery or the discovery of one’s soul through strings of intellectual conversations. It presents a different level of profundity though some parts seemed to be a lecture. As a side note, the idea of writing diary entries is quite innovative and has also made a huge impact for it exposes the heroine’s emotions apart from what she portrays.

I would also like to commend the way the book was written. For a subject as controversial as this, the author was able to present it in as clear-cut as a reader would appreciate. However, it is a bit fast-paced and I kind of look forward to the heroine’s engagement with other characters, besides Ralf Hart, the guy she has fallen in love with. Personally, I think that their story (Milan, Nyah, Terence, etc.) is as interesting as that of Maria’s and Ralf’s. Speaking of these two main characters, I admire how the author opted to differ from most romantic, fairytale-type love stories by imparting the idea of “loving one another without trying to possess one another”. It doesn’t, therefore, contain the mushiness of most novels but it didn’t come short of delivering intimacy and entertainment.

In a nutshell, I would recommend this book for people who are struggling to find determination to face life’s challenges and obstacles. Among the many ideas it presented, I love how it encourages readers to discover one’s strength, to keep one’s motivation despite facing personal weaknesses and to never stop dreaming. Though I still wish the ending hadn’t been the way it was written, certainly, I enjoyed reading this book for there is much to learn from it.

Enjoy reading.


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