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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2006
I was recommended this book by my partner who was reading it in French, otherwise I probably would never have looked twice at it. I was however pleasently surprised by this book.
It is very easy to read, so easy in fact I read it in 7 hours. It wasnt what I would call a page turner as such but yet somehow I found myself unable to put it down. Not perhaps a life changing book, but very easy and enjoyable to read.
The book follows a girl called Maria and her quest for love. But it is not a typical love story even if the ending is. Some very bold writing looking into the world of prostitution, with two erotic scenes that I think have been stamped in my memory forever.
I would recommend this book if you are looking for a very easy read where you dont have to stretch your mind too much, it flows so well and the plot moves quite quickly. But if you are looking for a challenge in a book with a big beefy plot then it might not be for you.
As a reader of all kinds of literature, from challenging to the not so challenging I found it nice refreshing change.
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47 of 49 people found the following review helpful
The latest novel from Paulo Coelho considers if sex and spirituality can go together. While Coelho has included sex and love in other novels, in this novel he writes more explicitly. Because the main character is a prostitute, the obvious focus fro the book is sex in its various forms. Despite being about a young girl who feels that prostitution is her only hope, the book is not sordid, nor does Coelho preach about her profession.
As her dreams of becoming a dancer start to dwindle, as she realises that the man who promised her everything really has nothing that special to offer, Maria turns to prostitution.
Maria later decides that to be the best in her profession, she should learn as much as she can about sex. Due to this, she gains one of the 'special' clients, a man who is into sadomasochism. It is also with him that she finally meets someone who she is able to love.
As with any of Coelho's novels, the writing is sensitive and very thought provoking. Having read this novel, it is easy to see how sex can easily be a weapon as well as a way of expressing love. The brief exploration of sadomasochism serves to illustrate how sex is precious, and while two lovers may want to experiment, they should always keep in mind that they should not risk their soul.
The quote I have used for the title of this review appears at the beginning of the novel. Coelho states that it could easily be applied to anybody's life, and almost at any time within their life. I quoted it because I think it sums up the whole theme of the novel brilliantly.
Please read this book, I cannot reommend it highly enough. Just perhaps, it'll make you look at sex differently...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 8 November 2010
The Alchemist rather left me cold, not least because of the turgid translation, and I approached this one with limited enthusiasm. Happily Eleven Minutes reads more like a book originally written in English which makes for more comfortable reading.

That is not to say it is an easy read - while it kept me riveted there were times I was overcome by the feelings it engendered and had to put it down to recover. I have never had a book do that to me before.

As a man, I'm not in a position to say whether Coelho has some special insight into the minds of women, but I'm not surprised that the reviews are polarised - it will either leave you drained or wondering what it was all about, and that will depend on your experience of life, love and sex.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 18 May 2004
Maria is a Brazilian girl with endless self-confidence. Her confidence gets her from a small Brazilian village to Rio de Janeiro, and finally to Geneva, Switzerland. Although she doesn't speak French, she quickly learns and finds her way in the money making business of prostitution.
Maria is not a victim of life in any way. Instead, she uses this opportunity in a strange country to make the most of herself. After all, she is making money fast, and this will allow her to return to her home town in Brazil to make a new life for herself, without anyone ever knowing she will have made her money lying on her back. The idea that an eleven minute event, which sex usually is, can have such power over people is one that fills her with surprise and curiosity.
Making the most of her times in Switzerland, Maria sees each day as an opportunity to develop herself and learn more about life, and about her own sexuality.
The mousy librarian who helps Maria find information on farming, something she intends to when returning to Brazil, is both a metaphor for the innocent girl Maria once was, as for the old maiden she will never become. For although Maria has no intention of finding a man to fulfil her, she takes each event as an adventure.
Good read.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 31 December 2006
Paulo Coelho's astonishingly beautiful writing in Eleven Minutes virtually guarantees it the cult status that The Alchemist already enjoys. This book is different from his other works but it reminded me The Zahir from time to time. Its story of girl called Maria, her diary, her thoughts, her trials and tribulations. Coelho's writing mixes old fashioned with modern, fairy tale with a saga of sexual discovery. Maria's diary entries are so moving so you could go back and easily find all of the passages again. She was born and grew up in poor family in 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. 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. At a tender age, she becomes convinced that she will never find true love, instead believing that love is a terrible thing that make you suffer.

"Pain is frightening when it shows its real face, but it's seductive when it comes disguised as sacrifice or self-denial. Or cowardice. However much we may reject it, we human beings always find a way of being with pain, of flirting with it and making it part of our lives."

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. At 22 she goes to Rio de Janeiro for the first time, on a week's vacation. On the beach she meets a Swiss man who is recruiting dancers for his nightclub in Geneva. She signs a contract, gets an advance, arrives, begins dancing and earns barely enough to get along.

Facing disappointment, she writes in her diary, which is quoted throughout the book:

"I can choose either to be a victim of the world or an adventurer in search of treasure. It's all a question of how I view my life."

But in the end, guiltlessly, becomes a well-paid regular prostitute at Geneva's expensive Copacabana. Her experiences as a prostitute have been described in vivid detail and bring the reader close to Maria. Nevertheless, throughout her journey as a sex worker, she finds the ultimate truth about herself. She drifts further and further away from love while at the same time developing a fascination with sex. 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 - Ralf Hart. Here is a woman who never finished secondary school or left rural Brazil until 22, and yet within nine months in Geneva is voraciously reading arcane books in French from the local library, where she holds sophisticated discussions with the resident librarian. Daily, she fills her diary with lofty abstractions.

She ends one entry:

"P.S. I have just re-read what I wrote. Good grief! I'm getting way too intellectual!"

The story evolves into an exploration of sadomasochism, in which nigh on magically, no one is damaged or distressed. Then, drawing on her books and the aging lady librarian, there is a clinical lecture on the physiology of sex.

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. In this novel, Paulo Coelho explores the sacred nature of sex and love and prejudices. The book nakely and deeply discuss what love and sex is and should be. Just read it and find the connection with divine...

Love from Sonia
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 18 November 2012
This is the second book that I have read written by Paulo Coelho, first being The Alchemist.
I gave this book 4 stars because the book is well written like usual and that it it very interesting.
I will try to give a review of this book without compromising on the story and the facts.

This book was written based on a true story, maybe it's all true or it's partially true.
If there were to be given keywords on this book, it would probably be
'sex', 'adultery', 'adult-lives', 'sexual interests', 'prostitution'...

I was unable to give the book 5 stars, because unlike The Alchemist, the book did not give me an overwhelming or breathe-taking feelings. The happening of the story had a good flow, and that there are a lot of interesting and true insight to the adult world. Unlike the Alchemist, where religion played a major role there, I believe Paulo had reduced that slightly and instead it focused on socio - cultural - economical sort of view point more.
I would still recommend this book to anyone who is mature enough to explore in this area.

In conclusion, Eleven Minutes is a well written and has many very very interesting ideas and give great insights to some of the aspects of prostitution, love and sexual intercourse. Despite the great flow of the story, there has not been any real-excitement or heart burning moments that would create great moments of the book.

I hope that you would enjoy this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 3 July 2006
A very nice book well written about a young girl who drifts into prostitution. Not seedy at all, but focusing on what she feels, why she becomes a prostitute, and what she really is looking for. You cant help but read through, and then search on mazon for further Paulo Coelho books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2012
Maria is a young woman that desperately wants to find love and be loved but has no idea how to make this a reality. As Maria enters womanhood, she learns life and love are full of risks and choices. She finds herself in precarious situations and satiates her curiosity while trying to find her true essence. As her journey continues she discovers and comes to term with her sexuality and has a better understanding of the woman she is and the woman she could be. Maria has held herself hostage for so long she has to break down the walls so she can find happiness and fight off loneliness her walls have caused her. You witness Maria's fears subside as she metamorphoses into a woman that surrenders and embraces herself and all that life has to offer. Maria learns that life's foundation is based on risks and choices.

This was an ok book. I feel for Coelho, tough to follow The Alchemist - in my opinion, everything seems to fail in comparison.

Maria was more than a prostitute. The story was more than the sexual nature if you initially perused the pages. The book was really about self enlightenment and that life as a whole is about risks and choices.

Add this to your TBR list and see what you discover after reading its entirety.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2007
Having loved Veronika decides to Die I had bought Eleven minutes and The Alchemist but unfortunately had never got around to reading them, until yesterday when recovering from a nasty flu&feeling slightly bored I decided to read Eleven minutes. That was it the minutes flew and before I knew it it was six thirty the next morning and I'd finished it. I could not put it down, another amazing book from an amazing writer. I love the fact that Coehlo can address the most nitty gritty of subjects with a tangible realism. Although his subject was sex it never felt like he was going too far he seemed to strike a perfect chord, even when re-telling the most degrading of Maria's sexual journeys. The honesty in which this book is written is beautiful you can truly relate to his character and understand that all she is searching for is love, yet a full love that revolves around an everday life. A closeness with someone that holds much more than just sex!. She takes us on a journey of honesty and we love her for that. She learns the true meaning of love in all its forms and makes us all think alittle about the difference between sex and making love. It is a gripping story with so many hidden meanings and as ever Paulo makes us question our own existence and indeed our own sexuality. Another inspirational piece of reading from the great Paulo Coelho. The Alchamest here I come!
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on 16 November 2003
Having read the reviews of this book by other readers I have found an urge to say one important thing. There is no need to understand why this book gets bad and good reviews, bacause every personal opinion is just a reflection of the person who has given it. Coelho is wonderful writer. He fills his new work with very deep, meaningful and important messages. However, only those people who are ready, whose soul is tuned into his way teaching, will find it useful. Such perceptive people will find this book amazing, unbelievable and reading it will bacome a life-changing experience for them. On the other hand those people who will complain and feel disappointed after reading the book are simply not ready for receiving the sensitive information that Coelho has included on every page. I just hope that one day these readers will realise the importance of this work and will want to reread it and get as much enlightment out of it as it has to offer, which is endless.
This book is about a girl's search for her own soul, for her unique purpose in life and the thing that makes this search so special is that there are countless steps on her difficult path that the reader can relate to. This book might appeal more to women, but is just as important for men. 'Eleven Minutes' is about helping the reader to search for the secrets of his or her own heart. In that respect it is an invaluable teaching as well as a fascinating read.
My advice to everyone is to at least give this book a go, because I believe that it has the power to touch everyone's soul. It is powerful enough to help one add a stone (even if invisible at first sight) to the road of happiness that every human being is trying to build for themselves.
And of course this book is unique. It is written by a man from a female point of view. And I rtuely don't know just how it is possible for a man to know a female so well from the inside. Not even the most knowledgeable women posses such a deep insight into the female soul.
So for all these men trying to find the woman of their dreams out there, please read this book!!!!! It will help you enormously on your way to success!!!! And of course all the women should read it too, because it is only through the search for oneself that one can find true happiness.
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