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Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

CholeraSynopsis (from goodreads)

In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

Review

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez was my book club’s pick for October. I have had this book on my TBR for quite a while so I am definitely glad that I finally got to read it.

The book tells the story about the lives of Fermina and Florentino. It starts with the death of Fermina’s husband and the return of Florentino. The book alternates between present and past timelines. We get to learn about how the two met. We also keep up with their lives during the years when they were apart until we come back to the present again.

What I really liked about the book was the narrative style. The chapters were long with quite a number of stories within the main story. The writing was sort of conversational. It felt like I was there with Marquez as he told me one tale after the other. For instance; we get to learn about Florentino’s lovers and these stories were quite something. I don’t want to spoil the book for those who haven’t read it yet but let me just say that Florentino had quite a taste for different types of women. He was not choosy when it came to women and each woman brought a different tale and twist to the narrative.

I really liked the two main characters. Florentino was such a hopeless romantic and seemingly a bit crazy too. His decisions at times were quite irrational but I sympathized with him most of the time. The only time that I didn’t like him was during his relationship with America, the fourteen year old girl. I liked how hopefully he always was and how much he was committed to winning over Fermina. Florentino is the only man I know to have gotten Cholera-like symptoms due to love.

“To him she seemed so beautiful, so seductive, so different from ordinary people, that he could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter. He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera

Fermina was also a likeable character although like Florentino, some of her decisions seemed quite irrational. I like that she was a complex character from an unstable background. Some of her actions made me smile like her habit of sniffing clothes. She was a great protagonist.

What I didn’t quite like about the book was the fact that I couldn’t really get a sense of time or place throughout the narrative. I only got to know the timelines from a  mention of 1900 somewhere in the narrative. I didn’t get a feel of the setting either. There were mentions of Paris, South America and other places that I didn’t know so that was a bit confusing. I know the story spans over about six decades so maybe this is what was confusing me.

Love-in-the-Time-of-Cholera-Cover-PageThere were also the views on sexual abuse that I found quite disturbing. I have already mentioned the relationship between a 70year old man and a 14 year old girl. There were also other instances where sexual assault was sort of trivialized and made to appear as just a norm. The perpetrators were both men and women and especially in the case of male victims, the narration made it seem more like something minor and actually fun.

Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez is not just a story about love. Love is one of the main themes but there is more to the tale than just two people falling in love. There are other themes that come up such as jealousy, infidelity and obsession. The story also doesn’t just revolve around the love lives of the two characters but we also get a glimpse of other aspects of their lives such as business and family. There are also heavy themes of sexual abuse and slavery. On the other hand, Marquez tackles other issues such as old age with a touch of humor.

If you are looking for good literary fiction then you should definitely give this book a try. It is a long book with around 1004 pages but I think it is a great read.

 

 

 

 

 

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12 comments on “Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

  1. Michael J. Miller
    October 17, 2016

    What fascinates me with this book is that line between love and obsession that you mention. Was Florentino a hopeless romantic, giving his all to his pursuit of true love? Or was he an obsessive nut job, focusing on an idealized vision of a woman who chose someone else and using that as an excuse to do whatever he wanted sexually as he was “waiting” for her to be free. I don’t know! Is he crazy or a brilliant role model of never giving up on love? Or is he both?? I find I think of this book often in this regard.

    • Diana
      October 18, 2016

      You raise an interesting point.Reading the book,I thought he was obsessive.Fermina rejected him for no good reason and it wasn’t clear as toii what really caused him to fall that hard and for so many years to the point of waiting for her husband’s death.The things he did too were questionable.I can’t decide of it was love or obsession in his case.

      • Michael J. Miller
        October 18, 2016

        In fiction we love the idea of “love at first sight” you know? But in real life, I don’t think it works that way. Love – true, real, honest, self-giving love – requires us to know the other in a way we can’t at first glance nor from a casual conversation. Like at first sight? Sure. Lust at first sight? Sadly more often than people should. Intrigue or interest at first sight? Of course. But like you point out, we have no understanding (as the reader) what the reality of his connection to Fermina was. Granted love is often a mystery to all save Lover and Beloved. But still… Maybe that’s part of the point? Maybe the book is supposed to prompt the reader to have the discussion we’re having right now about the difference between love and obsession. Also, I think it sort of challenges the reader to be aware of our own relationships. What is love and what is desire/obsession/possession?

  2. Annie
    October 17, 2016

    Wow, it’s long! You wrote Florentina and I thought she was a lesbian but then i read n the blurb that it was Florentino 😄 I was thinking Gabo was very modern, because at least in 100 years of solitude he didn’t write any gay characters haha

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this ^^

    • Diana
      October 18, 2016

      Thnks for mentioning that.Fermina and Florentino were confusing for me.I didn’t know the a/o represents gender.That would have made it easier to differentiate the two names.Anyway,thanks 🙂

      • Annie
        October 18, 2016

        Yes, that’s something very Spanish 😁

  3. Anonymous
    October 18, 2016

    This book redefined “love sickness ” to me. That love for someone or a sunject can take over ones life to the extent of them getting physically sick.
    Florentino was a hopeless romantic.

    However, his own sense of extreme romanticism and obsession turns him into a dark, twisted man who does not believe in love when Fermina gets married to Dr.Urbino

    Even though he proclaims his sincere love for Fermina Daza,the rhetoric does not translate into actions as he sleeps with other women.I think it was quite indecent of him to woo Fermina right after her husband’s death. But if you believe that love and lust are two different things and all is fair in love and war,Florentino Ariza is a fine man.

    • Diana
      October 27, 2016

      I like the points that you raise. I don’t even know if it was love or obsession with Florentino. Approaching Fermina so soon after she becomes a widow raises eyebrows. Its like he was just waiting for the opportunity. His decision was also selfish because it led to the death of a young woman. Florentino was definitely a complex character.

  4. Grab the Lapels
    October 20, 2016

    This book, although a classic, just didn’t appeal to me. I’d rather read Like Water for Chocolate 🙂

    • Diana
      October 27, 2016

      Its the opposite for me. Like Water for Chocolate is described to have magical aspects. I don’t know if I would read that although I am definitely intriguing by the cultural aspects mentioned in the descriptions so maybe…

  5. Pingback: Monthly Wrap-up: October /November TBR | A Haven for Book Lovers

  6. Pingback: Monthly Wrap-up: October /November TBR | A Haven for Book Lovers

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This entry was posted on October 17, 2016 by in Bookish Post.
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