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Love in the Time of Cholera Paperback – October 7, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The ironic vision and luminous evocation of South America that have distinguished Garcia Marquez's Nobel Prize-winning fiction since his landmark work, One Hundred Years of Solitude, persist in this turn-of-the-century chronicle of a unique love triangle. It is a fully mature novel in scope and perspective, flawlessly translated, as rich in ideas as in humanity. The illustrious and meticulous Dr. Juvenal Urbino and his proud, stately wife Fermina Daza, respectively past 80 and 70, are in the autumn of their solid marriage as the drama opens on the suicide of the doctor's chess partner. Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, a disabled photographer of children, chooses death over the indignities of old age, revealing in a letter a clandestine love affair, on the "fringes of a closed society's prejudices." This scenario not only heralds Urbino's demise soon afterwhen he falls out of a mango tree in an attempt to catch an escaped parrotbut brilliantly presages the novel's central themes, which are as concerned with the renewing capacity of age as with an anatomy of love. We meet Florentino Ariza, more antihero than hero, a mock Don Juan with an undertaker's demeanor, at once pathetic, grotesque and endearing, when he seizes the memorably unseemly occasion of Urbino's funeral to reiterate to Fermina the vow of love he first uttered more than 50 years before. With the fine detailing of a Victorian novel, the narrative plunges backward in time to reenact their earlier, youthful courtship of furtive letters and glances, frustrated when Fermina, in the light of awaking maturity, realizes Florentino is an adolescent obsession, and rejects him. With his uncanny ability to unearth the extraordinary in the commonplace, Garcia Marquez smoothly interweaves Fermina's and Florentino's subsequent histories. Enmeshed in a bizarre string of affairs with ill-fated widows while vicariously conducting the liaisons of others via love poems composed on request, Florentino feverishly tries to fill the void of his unrequited passion. Meanwhile, Fermina's marriage suffers vicissitudes but endures, affirming that marital love can be as much the product of art as is romantic love. When circumstances both comic and mystical offer Fermina and Florentino a second chance, during a time in their lives that is often regarded as promising only inevitable degeneration toward death, Garcia Marquez beautifully reveals true love's soil not in the convention of marriage but in the simple, timeless rituals that are its cement. 100,000 first printing; first serial to the New Yorker; BOMC main selection.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

While delivering a message to her father, Florentino Ariza spots the barely pubescent Fermina Daza and immediately falls in love. What follows is the story of a passion that extends over 50 years, as Fermina is courted solely by letter, decisively rejects her suitor when he first speaks, and then joins the urbane Dr. Juvenal Urbino, much above her station, in a marriage initially loveless but ultimately remarkable in its strength. Florentino remains faithful in his fashion; paralleling the tale of the marriage is that of his numerous liaisons, all ultimately without the depth of love he again declares at Urbino's death. In substance and style not as fantastical, as mythologizing, as the previous works, this is a compelling exploration of the myths we make of love. Highly recommended. Barbara Hoffert, "Library Journal"
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 348 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (October 7, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 140003468X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400034680
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (802 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gabriel García Márquez (1927 - 2014) was born in Colombia and was a Colombian novelist, short-story writer, screenwriter and journalist. His many works include The Autumn of the Patriarch; No One Writes to the Colonel; Love in the Time of Cholera and Memories of My Melancholy Whores; and a memoir, Living to Tell the Tale. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

631 of 675 people found the following review helpful By mdbumb@gsbpop.uchicago.edu on August 13, 1999
Format: Paperback
I think a lot of the online reviewers of this book don't realize that this book is not about the relationship of Fermina and Florentino. The book is about love in all of its forms, and the characters in the book exist as vehicles to examine the strangest and most powerful of all human emotions. Love in the Time of Cholera is about: unrequited love (Florentino for Fermina); marital love (Fermina and Juvenal); platonic love (Florentino and Leona); angry love (Florentino and the poet who makes him so furious); jealous love (the adulterous wife killed because of her affair with Florentino); young love (Florentino and Fermina in the beginning); dangerous love (the mental patient and Florentino); adulterous love (Juvenal and his affair, Florentino and many of his women); love from afar (Florentino and Fermina); elderly love (Florentino and Fermina, Fermina and Juvenal; the cyanide suicide); May-December love (Florentino and his ward); the relationship between sex, age, society, art, death and love (pretty much the whole book).
I could go on, but you get the idea. Any attempt to read this book as the story of Florentino and Fermina misses the point. The book is still very enjoyable that way, but look beyond the surface and enjoy Marquez' ruminations on that thing called love that drives us all crazy.
Incidentally, I think it's one of the best books ever written.
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173 of 182 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
Love in the Time of Cholera takes place circa 1880-1930 in an unnamed Caribbean seaport city. The three main characters form a triangle of love, with the hypotneuse being the quintessential romantic, Florentino Ariza, a man whose life is dedicated to love in all its aspects.
As a young apprentice telegrapher, Florentino Ariza falls hopelessly in love with the haughty teenager, Fermina Daza. Although the two barely meet, they manage to carry on a passionate affair via letters and telegrams, until one day, Fermina Daza, realizing that Florentino Ariza is more "shadow than substance," rejects him and marries the wealthy dandy, Dr. Juvenal Urbino instead.
Florentino Ariza, who has sworn to love Fermina Daza forever, is, of course, stricken to the core, but Fermina's marriage is nothing he can't handle. As one century closes and another begins, Florentino Ariza rises through the ranks of the River Company of the Caribbean and sets off on a series of 622 erotic adventures, both "long term liaisons and countless fleeting adventures," all of which he chronicled and all the while nurturing a fervent belief that his ultimate destiny was with Fermina Daza.
Fifty-one years, nine months and four days after Fermina's wedding, on Pentecost Sunday, fate intervenes and Fermina becomes a free woman once again when Dr. Juvenal Urbino dies attempting to retrieve his wayward parrot from a mango tree. Seeing his chance at last, Florentino Ariza visits Fermina Daza after the funeral and declares, "I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love." Fermina's reaction is not quite what Florentino was hoping for.
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171 of 193 people found the following review helpful By Tere on September 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you swoon at the thought of hopeless, tortured romances, then you must read this book! Florentino Ariza's long (half a century!), passionate, and tortured love for the haughty, oppressed Fermina Daza is the stuff of masochists. When the lady of his heart goes and marries another man, Florentino spends his life pining over her. Despite his finding solace in hundreds upon hundreds of sexual encounters, his heart remains true to her. Everything he does, he does with the hope of one day regaining her love. His rise as president of the local shipping company, his redecorating his childhood home, his devotion to the arts -- it's all for her. So strong is his love for her, that his tortured passion resembles the symptoms of the dreaded cholera, the disease that repeatedly ravaged this Caribbean town. And of course, there is also Fermina's husband, the illustrious Dr. Urbino. As the most respected, most innovative doctor in the region, he is beloved by all..... except his wife, who married him more out of convenience than anything else, after she realized that the poor Florentino could offer her very little. So will Florentino get his woman after waiting over 50 years for her? This sad, tragic, often humorous tale is, for me, Garcia Marquez's best novel... a must-read for both fans of the author and hopeless romantics alike.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful By chili_t on October 24, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Although I read this book four years ago, I still think about it and recommend it to anyone I think loves great literature. Unlike many people, I do not think of it so much as a "love story" as a "life story." Today we would call the "hero" a stalker. Love is so complex and involves such an evolution to fruition, that I always felt Ariza loved his own fantasy more than anything else; but he loved it completely. And in the end, he still sought to wed fantasy and reality. More moving was the brilliance of Marquez' use of language, his craft developed to the outer reaches of art. He can play the strings of emotion like a master violinist would his instrument. No John Wayne's and Darth Vadar's here. Good guys and bad guys are one and the same. These characters are rich and three dimensional, and you'll laugh and cry at the same moment. Sometimes I could only read a paragraph or two before I would have to stop and savor the richness of this work. In the fullness of time, I will read it again.
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