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Summary Book

Eleven minutes

“Once Minutes” is a book written by Paulo Coelho, published in 2003. This work reveals a reflective story in which the author addresses the subject of sex and recreates a modern fairy tale, full of melancholy and sensuality, where he relates the change of a woman in a constant search for herself. The protagonist, María, represents a Northeast girl disappointed in love, and that’s why she leaves home to find her passion.

“Eleven minutes” is a text that is based on real events, the novel originates from the triviality of love and sex to get closer to the reflection of our own being and our freedom. Therefore, this majestic work is considered a contemporary novel, where it uses an informal language with many descriptions.


The genre of this book is considered romantic since Maria’s relationships with her clients are captured. Despite the fact that Maria did not fall in love with any of them, until the painter Ralf came into her life, who would completely change her life, and would make her think differently about love.
Table of Contents [Hide Index]

1 “Eleven Minutes” Characters:
2 Summary and synopsis of “Once Minutes”:
3 “Eleven Minutes” Analysis:
4 Verbatim quotes from “Eleven minutes”:

Characters from “Once Minutes”:

Within the play, the main character is María, an independent young woman who has the desire to succeed in her life and will try to achieve it. He is decisive and persevering in what he wants with fervor. In addition we find other characters such as Heidi, who is a beautiful librarian; Nyah is a prostitute from the Philippines, and is Maria’s only friend; Ralf Hart is a painter, with whom Maria falls in love.

Summary and synopsis of “Once Minutes”:

This novel tells us about a young woman named Maria who travels through Europe to achieve her yearnings to succeed. However, this was not what she achieved, she could find love despite the fact that she thought she would never do it, so she fully lives what she thinks love is at a very young age.


When she was just 11 years old, she fell in love with her neighbor but in the end she ended up hating him because he didn’t pay attention to her. Then she had many boyfriends, and had deep experiences, until she realized that she did not need any man, and she decided never to fall in love. At the age of nineteen he wanted to follow his dreams and ask his boss for vacations in order to achieve them.

So she traveled to Rio de Janeiro and there she met a Swiss man who offered her a job as a samba dancer in a club. But dancing wasn’t her thing for her, so she quit her job and then looked for a job as a model. But it was achieved with an Arab who offers him to have a night of sex for money. So that night he took her to a brothel called “Copacabana on Rue de Berne” where he starts working as a prostitute, since he liked to acquire easy money that way.

In this place I work for a long time, and only had a friend named Nyah, since the other girls were jealous of Maria because she was very pretty. This type of work so degrading, made Maria completely closed to love, and her life was based only on the eleven minutes that sex lasted.

During the day, Maria spent it in the library, and there she met Ralf Hart, who was a Swiss painter who asked him to draw a portrait of her. This meeting achieved that the body and soul of Mary were rebuilt thanks to the love and passion that she shared with him, despite the fact that at first they had discussions due to the work of Mary.


 After meeting Ralf Hart many times at his home, he began to experience something he had never felt for any client. She fell madly in love with the painter. And so, she had to leave that place, since she had feelings for the painter, which prevented her from continuing to work. So he decided to travel home with his family.

She bought a ticket to Brazil, and she felt sad that she could not take so many memories that were constantly chasing her, and before leaving, she walks through the city to say goodbye to everything she had lived there. At night he met Ralf for the last time at the airport and the word “The End” appears on the screen of the cinema

Analysis of “Eleven Minutes”:

“Eleven minutes” is a play full of mixed feelings, where the protagonist seeks to achieve her dreams but at the same time avoids love, which comes to change her destiny and make her think differently. However, she runs away from him constantly, as a way to escape from her own reality and her feelings. All this happens when she falls madly in love with the painter. We then find a leading character who searches without finding because he closes himself to the possibility of surrendering to love, refuses to experience more than sexual pleasure, and therefore runs away terrified of what he feels.

In addition, the author offers us a work that describes each scene very well, gives us details of events and thus we discover the intrinsic world of the characters. In this way we enter and we can know the feelings of deep love that Maria feels for the painter, something to which she flatly refuses. We can also meet the librarian, who ventures with her friend María.

On the other hand, in the novel the theme of loneliness, discovery and pain is exposed, where the protagonist had to experience pain in her life to discover herself. Loneliness is presented within the text, since Maria was alone and felt isolated from her environment, her soul and mind were totally separated, which prevented her from continuing with her arduous career choice, and so she fled when finding the true love. The discovery is related to the fact that Maria discovers that she had made love with Ralf Hart and this made her feel full and happy but very afraid of that feeling.

Verbatim quotes from “Eleven minutes”:

“There was once a prostitute named Maria. Just a moment. “Once upon a time” is the beginning of the great stories for children and prostitute is a word for adults. How do I manage to head a book with this assumption? However, as in all the moments of our existence we are all divided between a fairy tale and the abyss, so let’s continue from the beginning “.

“He also observed that, as it had happened with the first child, he related love more to the distance of the person than to his representation”

“After a long time, he came to the conclusion that men only brought pain, frustration, suffering and a sense of time crawling”

“But love is a terrible thing: I have seen my friends suffer and I don’t want the same thing to happen to me. They used to laugh at me ”