Paulo Coelho is a popular author who shot to fame with his best-selling book The Alchemist. He has also written other books like the pilgrimage, the Valkyries, the fifth mountain, the Zahir (being his latest) and many others.
Eleven Minutes is very different from his other works for it is based on an adult theme and contains vividly described scenes of sexual intercourse and ‘eleven minutes’ the name itself refers to the average duration of the act.
Eleven minutes is the story of a girl called Maria. She was born and brought up in a Brazilian village. Just as any innocent young girl would, she had also fallen in love but had to face disappointment at a young slender age. This left her heart-broken and she becomes convinced that she will never find true love in her life. Her experiences teach her that she is a beautiful and can use this characteristic of hers to her advantage.
She decides to earn money and support her family and in this pursuit she ends up in Geneva, Switzerland as a dancer in a nightclub. She realizes that the money she was promised back in Brazil was a farce and that she would have to find another way to make quick money. In pursuit of money and fortune she ends up working as a prostitute in a bar called Copacabana.
Her experiences as a prostitute have been described in vivid detail by the author and bring the reader close to the Maria, the central character of the story. During her work as a prostitute Maria meets many men and gets to have a very close look at their mental abilities and psyche. She learns the tricks of trade very quickly and soon becomes a subject of envy among her colleagues. Unlike many others, in spite of the profession she was involved in, she had an intellectual bent of mind and she used to read many books on topics varying from economics, politics to management and finance. This brought her respect and business.
Over a year had passed since she had arrived in Switzerland and she decided that she should go back home. A chance meeting in a coffee shop brings her close to a famous painter called Ralf Hart who is also one of the elite clients at the Copacabana. Soon she realizes that she has found the true love of her life in Ralf Hart. However, at the same time her experiences with an elite client at the Copacabana leave her in a difficult situation. She develops a strong fascination for sex and at the same time she knows that life has given her a reason to live i.e. Ralf Hart. Maria ends up being at cross-roads where she has to choose between a path that leads to no where (a path of dark sexual pleasures) and a path that that gives a meaning to her life (a path that gives her what she never got – true love).
Paulo Coelho is a master craftsman whose works are capable to impacting the day-to-day lives of his readers. His work Eleven minutes ensure that the reader remains glued to the book from the first page till the end. However, I found that climax of the story was pretty predictable and that lulls the feeling that this book creates throughout. This story, that is so gripping throughout, leave a rather ordinary feeling at the end, except for the fact that the author reveals at the end of the story that Eleven minutes is based on a true story. Nonetheless I would recommend this book for (a) the kind of feeling it gives throughout, (b) it happens to one of the first on adult themes by Paulo Coelho and well written too.