Letter from M.E

Caracas, 7 October 2003

Dear Mr. Coelho:

I have read all your books and must say that the latest one really surprised me. Several times during the reading I felt like stopping and crying – just for being a woman. One does not need to have the experience of a prostitute to feel the emotions and confusions that you expose so well in your book.

Nonetheless, I would like to add some comments on women that you may not know. All of us have a bit of Maria (the character in the book) and we always promise never to love again so that we do not hurt or get hurt. We always end up breaking this promise, and we always regret this.

We are neither completely good nor completely bad.

Since sexual pleasure is not exactly our main concern, for many generations it was possible to conceal the fact that we rarely have an orgasm the way that men imagine we do. Do you know what gives us more pleasure than sex? Food. When we love a man, the first thing we want to know is whether he has already eaten, if he is well fed, and if he liked what we cooked for him. Although the feminists may hate me for saying so, seeing the man whom we love enjoying a meal is just divine! And you fail to mention this in your book.

The biggest problem for Latin women is that they end up a mother to their man. The love of a mother, forgiving all his weaknesses (because we know that he is weak, even when we spend the whole day saying how strong he is), making us want to believe that he will always come back home and realize that the best thing in his life is to be beside the person who takes care of him and pampers him. But men, even though they want to be loved like sons, always behave like savages, giving in to their impulses and the passions of the moment. Even though they may not abandon us in a physical sense, their soul has already departed and returned time and time again.

Women always live in the hope of returning to the past, remembering each and every moment they have experienced. And they are scared by the fact that the past has gone, now is another, shorter time and it is passing by ever so fast. I am not just talking about biological time but rather the fact of no longer feeling desired, walking down the street and noticing that no heads are turned. Then there is the fear of never being touched again like when they were young, never seeing in a man’s eyes an erotic or – I dare say – pornographic thought.

Women are romantic, but always let men kill their feelings – and because of that they can become implacably destructive because they no longer have anything to lose.

The other day I was talking to some friends about how we were capable of being “perverse and destructive,” when one of them said: “No, that’s not quite true, it’s far worse! When men are hurt they get themselves an arm and prepare to take vengeance, ready to put an end to the adversary. But when we are hurt by those we love, the only thing that we can think of is to prepare a lot of strategies until we manage to get our executioner back and begging for pardon. That is our vengeance: making him miss us and then come back.”

I know that in your new book you try to talk like a woman and at some moments I think you succeed. But that is the ideal vision of the female sex, not the real thing. The character resembles more what we would like to be than what we really and truly are.

But be that as it may, it is very important to see a man trying to think like a woman. You may never achieve that but that is not important, it is the trajectory that is very interesting, and this might stimulate others to do the same thing.

From a faithful reader of yours who is the mother of a boy of 14 and whom many accuse of thinking like a man,



In a city in the Pyrenees, 24 October 2003

Dear M. E. – I only wish that the literary critics were as sensitive as you.

Paulo Coelho

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  1. Tania says:

    A nice post, it obviously stirred some emotions. I do not agree with the letter however, M.E. really generalized the genders. Each individual is a blend of the masculine and feminine traits, some have more of one than the other and some grow into more of a balance of the two. What I did notice is that it sounds like alot of resentful women commenting? We draw our own experiences into our lives, it is how we view and learn from them that creates our personal & spiritual growth.

    I loved the book but then I consider myself passionate and sensual about life.


  2. THELMA says:

    Thank you all. I had many thoughts to state for the biggest issue in life, the relationship between man and woman. There is no time.. The letter of M.E. is very well written although I do not agree in many respects.
    I think that Jesus with his presence at the marriage in Kana has blessed this relationship. He has put also EVE in the same position as ADAM. From them on, we are both in a relationship as equals. One completes the other. In the Greek Orthodox mystery of matrimony one of the new state of things is that the priest says that they both have to dedicate themselves to each other.
    Another issue, that I do not agree, is that we must treat them as our.. sons. This in my opinion is a way of .. castration. We do not need … immature, naughty, spoilt boys that we are willing to forgive them ‘everything’. No, it is a sacred relationship that should be based on equality, respect and Love. One to complete the other. To be one.
    As for sex, although I have grown in a very strict family, live in a close society I, again, believe that our needs are the same. I also believe that the multi ability of men to be or need many women is a myth created from men and for men. It was before said that this was just to protect the family and children, and so that the men ‘know’ exactly to whom …belong the children they raise. But now with the DNA test everything in this respect has become … transparent!

  3. Antara says:

    Someone said.”Love is a part of man’s life, but a woman’s whole existence.” This is so much true..
    I would say.. that men are like children, they are immature, stubborn, whimsical and take things at their face value..not bothering to dig deep. I’ve never understood why they are so..

  4. Loretta says:

    Have you ever been to a Circus? Have you noticed how women are always wearing three times nothing and the men are dressed up with an overcoat hat and gloves? Why? a bit of a double standard there don’t you think? From an aesthaetic point of view, it is very nice, however why aren’t women getting the same deal?. I say “Come on down bring the show on from both sides then.”
    Also if you go to a strip show – men are so serious in there, frankly –
    see the difference when women go to a Chippendale – for women only –
    They are having such a good time laughing their heads off – it is a scream –

    The way I see it is different, sex is something special, a meeting of two souls and it is very private.

  5. Ellie says:

    I agree with Alexandra, in that we are all different. There is no such thing as a ‘typical’ woman. I could write from the point of view of a man and some men might feel that I was accurate in my writing and some might not, just as if I wrote from the point of view of my own sex some would agree and some would not. Just because we are of the same gender does not mean that we feel or experience the same things in love, sex or any emotional response to things.

    In fact it is the individual feeling and response that we have to things that define us as individulas regardless of our gender.

  6. cristina says:

    ok I agree with many thing M wrote.
    This letters reminds me of how important and how true is the symbol of The Virgin who holds in her arms Jesus Baby.
    If you read that letter, you’ll have the prove of that.
    About latins (I am italian) I agree.
    However often is impossible for us to talk to men, cause they depend on their mothers even in their ’40-’50 .
    Mother is always there and often plays the main role.
    Often this is caused by lonelyness of mothers that give too much affetion to their children, cause fathers don’t love them anymore ( or so they believe).
    It’s different with anglosaxon people.
    They are more free.
    Maybe one of the challenge of human kind is to change the relation mother-child,into the relation man-woman.
    Have a nice day.

  7. Alexandra says:

    No,no,no,I disagree completely.She might say things that she think true,but women cant be put in the same pot,neither men.This is a big mistake,trying to give generalities.Each of us are so different.How can one say food give a pleasure simillar to sexuall pleasure?Is terrible.Maybe to some women,but for me those are very distinct things.Ok,we might agree on taste,enjoy togheter a wonderful dinner,but sex is …very different.Maybe I am nore passionate,wild,crazy…as my friend describe me?I dont want to acuse any other ,but really,I was shocked to read such lines.And why crying?The reality is you see some things that to other seem vailed.I think today women are changed,and men too.I see the young boys are not so tyran as the older generation.If I speak to younger boys,we might talk about very various themes.But the older,has in mind more chores,or maybe cooking,as the lady say.I am repeating myself.sorry
    I say sexuality is something very delicate,one must feel something special,than is impossible that pleasure not come.

  8. Latina says:

    Who says that sexual pleasure is not a woman’s concern?
    It takes two to tango, no?
    True food is important.
    Latin women treat men like a mother? – some of them do, not all –
    In some countries women give men more space and I think it is a good idea. Maybe there is something to learn from that.
    Who says a man is weak?
    Why do women have to be strong all the time?
    I believe everybody manipulates everybody – it is a human condition – men and women.
    It all boils down to acquiring good communication skills.
    I like the idea of reversing roles – woman thinking like a man and vice-versa – After all,we all have our feminine and masculine side.
    I also think that the idea of “loosing” is pretty unpalatable to both sides- your pride is involved – just get over with it and move on I guess. That’s life!

  9. Angela says:

    i was on holidays in the Blue Mountains in Sydney, and i pick up Eleven Minutes at a local bookstore, it was the first i ever read, my god what an impact it made on me, as it was written from a man, i returned to the little bookstore the next day and bought every other available coelho book they had. I totally agree with PAUL from Austria…”For the woman who thinks like a man… there will be a man who thinks like a woman…”…and that is the balance.

  10. marci says:

    one of the common archetypes all of us share is the prostitute. . .how many times today did you prostitute yourself today at some level is the question we each can ask. . . I am woman and truly do not resonate with M.E. experience of Woman. . .but i can see where she is coming from for that is the old script of “he is my rescurer, i am his prisoner”. . .UGH!. . . .no thank you. . .

  11. M... says:

    I think you got very well the female side, as there are many kind women in one, it depends how we are feeling in the moment. Women are more powerful then many realize and we also can hurt very much men.
    I need more then feels like a mother or just expect a reaction, but it’s not mean I’m different, just in a different time. Anyway I always wonder what is in your mind, if I got the right message of what you really means.

  12. sarvesh s. hada says:

    i dont know “what a woman really thinks”but as i m an indian i believe and trust in the fact that each individual’s half part is male and half is female.sometime in some moment my female part dominate while sometimes male part.female is trust ,male is reason…

  13. Shruti says:

    The letter has so much truth in it. Women love to be loved, but what we love more is to love someone unconditionally in hopes that one day he’ll appreciate it.
    Reading the letter was like someone had taken the thoughts out of my head and printed it here. Eleven minutes was the first book I ever read of yours and then went on to read the Alchemist, which changed my life – but that is another story.


  14. Popi says:

    …and I’m wondering…is there any man who wants to be loved like a man and not like a son??? A man who is strong enough to accept a woman by his side and not a reflection of his mother?…

  15. Sefer JAN says:

    I agree with the M. E. that men can’t understand or predict feelings, thoughts and actions of women for %100.

    I also agree with her that not the “real” but the “ideal” image of women is described in the book.

    And I also agree with SIDO66 that love is bigger than critics.

    Thanks for all books you wrote with the will of God ;-)


  16. Simon says:

    Pour SIDO66;
    Le 6 : Il représente l’équilibre et on l’associe souvent í  une étoile í  six branches. Dans la tradition judéo-chrétienne, le six est en revanche un chiffre maléfique car il est attribué í  Satan (son chiffre étant 666)…

  17. sido66 says:

    One day I wrote you ” are the people ready? ”

    Today I say: ” yes it is worth the cost… ”

    For the love of all

    Signed: the girl of pyrénées :-D

    un jour je vous ai écrit ” les hommes sont-ils príªt ? ”

    aujourd’hui je dis : “oui cela vaut le coí»t …”

    pour l’amour de tous

    signé : La fille des pyrénées :-D

  18. sido66 says:

    Paulo , Paulo ,

    The critics are sometimes small daggers

    But the Amur of your readers is bigger and bandage the wounds which sometimes have difficulty in healing

    We like all your way of thought / feminine and male side (which are in each of us, but not enough developed)

    We so much need you, we love you

    les critiques sont parfois de petits poignards

    mais l’Amour de vos lecteurs est plus grand et pansent les plaies qui ont parfois du mal í  cicatriser

    nous aimons tous votre faí§on de pensée / cí´té féminin et masculin ( qui sont en chacun de nous , mais pas assez développé )

    nous avons tant besoin de vous , nous vous aimons

  19. Marie-Christine says:

    I think there is a lot of truth in that letter