Author: Paulo Coelho
Total pages: 291
Total approximate words: 81400
Paulo Coelho is a story teller, probably one of the bests that the literary world has the pleasure of being associated with! He mixes all the different elements of storytelling together just in the right ratio, and the end product becomes a masterpiece like ‘ADULTERY’, or ‘THE SPY’, or ‘THE ELEVEN MINUTES’.
Maria is a young girl from a small town in Brazil, who wanted to chase her dreams of living in a big city, meeting her prince charming and then marry him to live happily ever after. And so, she leaves her job in a local shop whose owner was madly in love with her, and sets off for Rio de Janeiro.
While enjoying her new found freedom in Rio, she comes across a Swiss man who thought her to be very beautiful, and wanted to take her out for dinner in a fancy place, to which she agrees. During dinner the man offers her a job in Geneva with a very attractive salary. Not knowing what she was getting into, Maria agrees to the offer, thinking that all her dreams were finally going to come true.
She lands into Geneva to find out that her new job role is that of a bar dancer in one of the most expensive clubs of Geneva. She also sees that she wasn’t the only Brazilian girl there who left her small town for the chase of the big cities. Her job role was to seduce the men in the club and then spend some more time in a hotel room after that with them. She was allowed to take 3 men per night and give part of her earnings to the bar owner, who facilitated the whole arrangement. Gradually Maria makes peace with her new role as a prostitute but she also promises herself that she will be in this like of work for only one year, just enough to save to buy a farm back home, and a one way ticket to brazil.
During this one year, she meets many wealthy men who paid to be in her company for a few minutes, however there are two men in particular that she falls for. Ironically they both have very different definitions of love and Maria doesn’t seem to settle in her heart which one makes more sense than the other.
At the end she chooses to leave both of them, but knowing which one of the two she really loved. She never confronts her love to him and rather as planned after the one year, she buys a ticket to get away from Switzerland once and for all. She gets a one night stop in Paris, and as fate would have it, the man that she really loved was waiting for her at the airport in Paris.
Coelho leaves the story with Maria’s arrival in Paris without any final details about her actually getting into a flight to home in Brazil.
The plot is intricately detailed, so are the characters and the scenes. Each incident is patiently weaved into beautiful words, keeping in mind the characteristic details of not only the protagonist but also of the supporting characters. The pace is neither too fast nor too relaxed. Even though this book is a translated version of its original Portuguese form, the words used are fairly easy to understand and makes for an overall pleasant read. I am fan of Coelho’s work in general, except for The Alchemist (review here), and I would happily give this book a 8.5/10 rating!