20 August 2009

Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

Title: Love in the Time of Cholera
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Published: 1988 Pages: 348
Genre: Romance
Rating: 4/5

Buy  |  Borrow  |  Accept  |  Avoid

Plot Synopsis

Florentino Ariza loves Fermina Daza passionately, and even when she forgoes their youthful romance for a fortuitous marriage, he carries his love for her inside him. Over the next decades of his life he engages in over 600 affairs but he waits for the day when he can declare his love to Fermina once again.

My Thoughts

My thoughts are in a jumble about this book, so forgive me if this review is rambling and inconclusive. On the one hand, the story must have appealed to me on some level as I found myself reading it for hours at a time. On the other hand, it took me longer to read this book than most I pick up because I had no problem leaving it on the table for days at a time.

There is almost no dialogue, very few chapters, and not much action. Yet even as I say that I know that everything and nothing happened in the book. Varied themes, age, love, wealth, family, war, and so on are covered almost carelessly and yet still resonate with a certain power. Characters flit in and out of the story with little depth and yet they reveal so much about the two characters the book is about: Florentino and Fermina. The settings are both constant and varied, providing not their own story but pure backdrop for a tale of love. Marquez has created a world and information is passed in an almost confused fashion, some barely related to the main plotline, and yet each intricacy and tidbit adds a depth that keeps the reader interested.

I was particularly fascinated by the duality of love, the carnality and the comfort. Fermina begins her lovelife in a passion, almost like a love affair with a stranger, a forbidden secret love that is never consummated. She marries and slides into a comfortable love while Florentino loses himself in carnal pursuits that are still thought of, described, and experienced as a form of love. Both sides of love appear to be lauded in this novel. While the reader on some level is rooting for Florentino, Juvenal - Fermina's husband - is not villainized, and actually there is a sort of beauty in the love they have for each other. Compassion and passion perhaps are both needed, and until those involved understand this, there is no hope for a true love to exist.

The novel is a slow seduction, not a rollercoaster of overwhelming emotions, and while I, at times, could not truly express why I kept reading, I am very glad I did.

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  1. I've only read one book by Marquez - One Hundred Years of Solitude, but many of the things you describe here are how I felt about that book--more a book about words and themes rather than action. I've heard good and bad things about this one, and even though I have it on the shelf, I just can't seem to pick it up. Glad that in the end it worked for you.

  2. Trish - It was a painful journey at times, but yes it did seem worth it in the end. I haven't read One Hundred Years yet, and I'm definitely giving it some time before I pick up Marquez again. I need a bit of a break.

  3. Trish -

    I think your last paragraph pretty much sums up the "magical realists" like Marquez. Italo Calvino is another who rights in the same vein. I read Love in the Time of Cholera several years ago - and now I'm thinking it might be worth re-visiting.

  4. Oh brother...could you please correct my spelling on "writes". *sigh*

  5. Booksexy - Don't even worry about the spelling. First, I didn't even notice, and second, I misspell all the time when I'm writing fast. :)

  6. "Slow seduction" is a very apt description. I can't quite pinpoint why this book worked so well for me, and yet it really did.

  7. Nymeth - Thanks. I feel the same way; it's difficult but interesting and satisfying read.

  8. Hi Trisha, thanks for linking to this review in the comments of my abandoned posts. I don't actually link to other reviews in my abandoned posts but I did want to come read your thoughts.

    I think my biggest problem is I just didn't care for the characters. I wasn't rooting for Florentino at all.

  9. Amanda - No prob on linking. I'm not sure I was ever rooting for Florentino, but there was something captivating about the relationship.


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