Eleven Minutes is about protagonist Maria discovering sexual acts. But with a deeper thought, it’s also about love, how we associate it with our life, how we confuse sex and love and how love doesn’t seem to exist in sex anymore.
Rating – 3/5 (Click for rating system)
This is the second book I read of Coelho after his The Alchemist, but it was multiple years apart that I don’t really remember that much of how far they differ.
I had no idea what this book was about at first, so it was to my surprise that it was about an immigrant sex worker. No, it’s not anything like reading porn, not even soft porn, just artistic descriptions to give you enough idea of what she’s doing.
The beginning was hooking despite probably being one of the most cliche plots in any novel. The protagonist, Maria, as he narrates, was beautiful and smart (isn’t that always the case), she came from a poor family (yawns). I was hooked at first since I was curious what she’ll actually do to change that fact.
She was later on torn between two people- one she sees just as a client, and the other she falls in love with (very romance movie plot), she didn’t have a hard time choosing though because the story focused mostly on her learning about the idea of love and discovering why she truly likes working as a prostitute (meh).
The whole story rotated around the idea of her figuring out sex as sex and sex as love. But while reading you see glimpses of her “diary” and you’ll actually realize that Maria doesn’t make up for what the author wants for her, an intellectual woman.
The whole plot was slow-paced, like it was mostly about Maria and her long monologues on dissecting whatever is happening in her life. Most characters felt flat and the whole novel felt like a biography forcefully turned into fiction.
Also, despite Maria’s real-life flaws and characteristics, she was too protagonized, like the perfectly imperfect lead actors in films just so it can transition to where Coelho wanted her to be as the story continues. I feel like she was dehumanized through too much philosophical inserts. Throughout the book, it just felt like Coelho was trying to word out his over-analysis on how women think of sex.
I’m not saying the book was a waste of time to read, but comparing to The Alchemist which is a staple must-read for anyone, Eleven Minutes felt truly lacking in impact as it should.