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Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – October 5, 2007

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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: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (October 5, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307389731
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307389732
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (782 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,246 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

171 of 179 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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623 of 667 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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170 of 190 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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247 of 285 people found the following review helpful By L. Boswell VINE VOICE on November 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
As I began this book, I was recommending it to everyone. Marquez truly has a gift not only for beautiful description, but also for simplistic, powerful dialogue.

Ostensibly, this is a story of unrequited love. As a young man, Florentino Ariza falls in love (at first sight) with Fermina Daza after he sees her reading outside her home one afternoon. He begins to, more or less, stalk her, though it's definitely an innocent teenage crush type of stalk, not the scary "I'm chasing you in a dark alley" type of stalk. Soon the two begin to exchange letters, leaving them in secret places so they won't be discovered. All goes as planned until Fermina is caught writing a letter in school, gets expelled and is taken away on a "forget your bad-boy boyfriend" trip by her father. When she returns many months later, she sees Florentino and decides her "love" was merely immature infatuation and rejects him completely, and shortly after marries the prestigious Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Florentino then spends the rest of his life waiting for Urbino to kick the bucket, so he can get his second chance at Fermina. He whiles away his time by having casual affairs with many many many women.

I liked this book because it was well-written. The setting, a Caribbean island, is so vivid it feels like you're somewhere tropical while reading it; and as I said before, the dialogue is masterful--poetic even.

I disliked this book for more concrete reasons. For one, it goes against my nature to throw away decades upon decades of your life simply biding your time for some person to have a change of heart.
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