‘Eleven minutes’ is one of the finest and most controversial books of the wondrous writer Paolo Coelho.

A small towner, Brazilian girl, Maria’s early encounters with love fails to give her a sweet taste. After losing faith in the sanctity of love and guided by her inner desires she glides toward an uncertain world to find herself and to know the truth about love. In Switzerland she works in a bar at first, then as a model. But she ends up spending a night with a stranger in return of a huge sum of money and gradually turns into an high-end escort thinking that after making a fortune she may go back to her simple, old life back in Brazil. Maria, however, treats her profession way seriously than her other colleagues. She reads and becomes good at delving deep into her clients’ minds. She not only provides them pleasure in bed but try her best to soothe their weary souls. Everything seemed as calm as death until she meets Ralf, an eccentric painter who comes in her life like a blustery wind sweeping her senses away. He sees in her a light. He indulges her in knowing the true art of love making. She learns making love is not just an interlude of eleven minutes, it’s way beyond that, where every second of the time counts as an eternity, every breath feels as if it’s the last, every cell of your body sprouts anew. She understand it’s a feeling of flying up and meeting the devine and parachuting down slowly on earth.

It’s a bold but very successful attempt in Coelho’s part to discuss such a tabooed subject in an artistic way. The idea of an intellectual love making which is more about entering each other’s souls. In our society which still prohibits us to discuss about sex openmindedly one must read this book to gather up the idea of real sensual pleasure, the need to understand each other’s body and to connect on a transcendental level. Also, it’s a journey of a girl from innocence to experience. It’s an offbeat love story that has a relatively beautiful ending.

Needless to say, Coelho’s writing style is very gripping. He has a mastery in presenting such usual and unusual ideas, framing them into a compelling story, creating a character that goes beyond the conceptual sphere bit by bit and finally procreating another masterpiece.

Surbhi Islam

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