by Paulo Coelo
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Amazon Editorial Review
Paulo Coelho's astonishingly beautiful writing in Eleven Minutes virtually guarantees it the cult status that The Alchemist already enjoys. But what is the Paulo Coelho phenomenon? How can an author who (only a short time ago) was virtually unknown to most readers have taken the world of books by storm--and without the benefit of glitzy advertising? The answer is simple: quality. Such books as The Fifth Mountain andThe Devil and Miss Prym are enough to explain a considerable following for the author, with their atmospheric prose and involving characters.
Eleven Minutes tells the story of young Maria living an innocent life in a Brazilian village and is played out in a measured fashion, but with all the author's brilliant scene-setting (very lush here) fully in place. But then Maria experiences love and suffers great pain. From this point, Coelho has us inexorably in his grip. Maria's disillusionment with love leads her to Geneva where she finally ends up selling her body (Coelho may offer us the beauty of life, but never at the expense of its harshness). Maria's approach to sex is complex--this is no mere revulsion arising from what she is now doing with her life. And then she meets a seductive young painter, who may or may not offer her a new path in life. But does she prefer to continue on the dark sexual odyssey she has embarked on, at the expense of real love?
There are echoes of DH Lawrence in Coelho's exploration of the sacred and spiritual aspects of sex and it's a brave author who tackles a subject that can so easily slip into strained seriousness. That never happens here, and Maria's journey is one that the reader willingly undertakes; the lesson she learns are lessons for the reader. --Barry Forshaw
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