Maria, from the interior of Brazil, goes to seek her fortune in Switzerland, only to find that reality is harsher than she expected and she ends up working in a brothel on Rue du Berne, the heart of Geneva s red-light district. The book deals with issues surrounding sex and sexuality, such as prostitution, sacred sex, and sex in the context of love. Because of its graphic descriptions, the novel has been described as "erotic".
Maria who is on journey to find what true love is but ends up letting her own life guide her. She enters a life that leads her down the path of sexual awakenings and almost leads to her self-destruction when she is introduced to all sides of sexual experience. When she has given up hope to find true love she meets a painter with whom she falls in love. And she must now choose where she is to take her life. Either to let it lead her or finally take control of her life and end this subtle self-destructive life she is leading. Just like many of Coelho s books, this book is also about a journey of self-discovery that leads the reader into understanding the issues of sex (in prostitution), sacred sex, and sex in the context of love.