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Of Love and Other Demons
on July 27, 2012
Ninety three days after being bitten by a rabid dog and still not showing any signs of rabies, twelve year old Sierva Maria de Todos los Angeles is put in a convent for observation. Sierva Maria has been put through a series of painful and uncomfortable remedies in order to try and fight the infection that might take her young life.
Her mother and father dislike each other immensely and have allowed the girl to be raised in the slave quarters near their home. This has led Sierva Maria to speak in an African tongue, adopt African traditions and not be close to either of her parents.
Bernarda Cabrera, Sierva Maria's mother, is addicted to sex, cacao and fermented honey. Bernarda slowly deteriorates due to her way of living. Her father, Don Ygnacio, lives a quiet life and although his daughter has been left to live with the slaves, he tries to amend this wrongdoing and bring her home.
Once inside the convent, thirty six year old Father Cayetano Delaura is assigned Sierva Maria's case and is put in charge of performing her exorcism. Delaura is a quiet intellectual and a lover of books.
He becomes smitten by the young girl and makes it his mission to prove that she is not possessed. By doing so he will improve her living conditions and save her from the grueling ordeal of an exorcism.
I have a love hate relationship with Marquez. He pisses me off but I can't seem to break up with him. This time around, he didn't make me too angry, he mostly mesmerized me with this beautifully written, yet strange tale.
Both love and demons play a part in this surreal story. I found Sierva Maria to behave as I'd expect a young spoiled girl abandoned by her parents would. Her behavior as a result of this poor parenting leads her to lie constantly and she even goes along pretending she is possessed.
Sierva Maria's beautiful red hair has been promised to the Virgin Mary, it must not be cut until the day she marries. When loose, it trails down to her feet.
I found Father Delaura's character to be passionate, this lover of books encloses himself in his room and read for hours every day.
Bernarda, Sierva Maria's mother was another character that had me shocked with her behavior and some truths that she reveals towards the end of the story.
Sierva's father, Don Ygnacio is a strange and complicated man. He seems not to care about his daughter, but then again he seems like he might love her after all.
Exorcisms and being possessed by demons was considered a legitimate danger during the setting of this book and Márquez brings this aspect of the story out divinely. He weaves in magic and realism perfectly and left me wondering what was real and what was imaginary.
I was both shocked and enthralled as I read this sad story about pain, heartache and faith. Highly recommended if you are a fan of Marquez or to those looking for a piece of fiction that will leave them a bit unsettled by its storyline yet mesmerized by its prose.
The final paragraph in Of Love and Other Demons gave me chills. I can't remember a book ever having that effect on me before.
"He had no room in his heart for anything but Sierva Maria, and even so it was not large enough to hold her. He was convinced that no oceans or mountains, no laws of earth or heaven, no powers of hell could keep them apart."
p.122, Of Love and Other Demons