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VINE VOICEon 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.

My Thoughts:
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
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I recently read the author's acclaimed work "Love in the Time of Cholera" and enjoyed it very much. It spurred me to seek out more work by Marquez, hence this and several others that I recently purchased. My second foray into Marquez was "One Hundred Years of Solitude". I was very disappointed in that novel and concerned that I'd perhaps already seen the best he had to offer. Luckily, I found this novella to be every bit as enjoyable as LitToC.

Marquez's writing is certainly unique in its earthiness. He deals with such subjects as sex, bodily functions and graphic illness as if they are parts of everyday life ... because they are. It is refreshing.

Marquez is also known as one of the leading practitioners of the literary device of "magical realism" in which events are introduced into the story which are quite fantastic (for example, a character being swept away into the sky as though taken to heaven, a rain event that lasts over four years followed by an absolute drought of ten years). This was a major device used in One Hundred Years of Solitude and perhaps contributed to my dissatisfaction with that work. In any event, both LitToC and Love and Other Demons use this literary device sparingly if at all.

This relatively short work (readable in one or two sittings) focuses on a young woman born to feckless and irresponsible aristocrats. Neither parent cares for the child and she is raised in the slave quarters. Her unorthodox upbringing gives rise to behavior that lead many to suspect her of possession by demons. A local churchman is tasked with performing an exorcism, but instead falls madly and hopelessly in love with her, a love that is never consummated. For those familiar with Marquez, it should be no surprise that a happy ending is not to be expected.

The author's writing is indisputably beautiful and at times mesmerizing. Much like LitToC, this is a haunting and compelling story, filled with sadness and regret. I can highly recommend this short work as a precursor to the much longer and complex LitToC. If you enjoy this, you'll almost certainly enjoy the latter.
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on May 30, 2015
I must say that when I first started this book, I didn't know where it was going. The assumed locale is the Carribean in the early 1800s. Spain's influence is pervasive, as are the church, religious beliefs, slavery, crude medicine and exorcism. His writing is compelling, and takes you there with rich descriptions and wonderful character development. Not as an insatiable read as "In the Time of the Butterflies", but if you enjoy reads with a historical lean, I would recommend this.
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on March 20, 2013
When I first picked up Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Of Love and Other Demons, I did not think that a love story about pedophilia could ever move me. Marquez, a master of his craft, proved me wrong. Set in eighteenth century Columbia, the compact, powerful novel presents Sierva Maria--the child of disinterested aristocrats--and her love-struck exorcist, Father Cayetano Delaura.

Reading Of Love is like floating. Marquez's poetic prose guides you along, and you are lulled by the meditative seduction of his words. He relies on simple dialogue. There are no agonizing sermons here. There are only sparse phrases and acerbic banter, language that stirs you in your gut. Yet, Marquez cannot take all the credit. Edith Grossman's expert translation creates beautiful, natural writing, which says as much about her command of the English language as it does about Marquez's skill.

Marquez taps into themes of love and decay, of spirituality and sanity, and of sex and disgust. His doomed characters "live in fear of being alive," as each confronts demons--some real, some imagined, all burning. The novel is appropriately feverish, as disease itself becomes a leading player in the story. Using haunting imagery, Marquez presents illness (pardon the pun) in sickening detail. You smell Sierva's stink. You chafe at her pain.

Pinning down the novel's genre is difficult. It is part fantasy, part history, part love story, and part horror. In the end, Of Love flows fluidly through all of these categories, not confined to any one definition. Its portrayal of love is equally unconventional. The journey of a tormented priest as he longs for a depraved, demonic child is undoubtably strange. But (and I never dreamed I would admit this) you root for him. Despite the bizarre circumstances, Delaura's love feels authentic. The couple's affectionate exchanges could be those of any star-crossed romance. In this way, Marquez's work resonates on a universal level.

Of Love is a slippery novel. Its fractured timeline can be disorienting, and you may find yourself tripping over comically long Spanish names. Especially irksome are Marquez's lengthy character backstories. Why include pages of detail on a character who only appears for a few fleeting scenes? As irritating as the time shifts and extensive character backgrounds can be, they contribute to the mystery of Marquez's Columbia, a twisted and twisting universe. It is a murky world, but one that is almost impossible to leave. Though well-developed, the characters are illusive, which leads to exciting plot twists that unwind even in the novel's final moments.

Imbued with Marquez's trademark magical realism, the novel does not try to be lighthearted. The surreal images gave me goosebumps. They sneak up on you, leaving you afraid of things you would not ordinarily fear. Sierva and Delaura share the same nightmare. I will not give too much away, but its elements, snow and grapes, are mundane. Trust me when I tell you that my own dreams may be disturbed by this chilling scene.
The content of the novel is so unusual that I wondered if Marquez is trying to satirize something. Could he be mocking wealthy decadence with his portrayal of Sierva's father, an ineffectual, crumbling nobleman? Is he exposing racism in the interactions between slaves and their masters? I believe so. But whereas satires can be superficial, Of Love penetrates deep into issues like sins of the father and consequences of unfulfilled desire. If it is a satire, then it is unlike any satire I have read. Then again, nothing about the novel is conventional.

What is ultimately remarkable about Marquez is not his use of magic but his revelation of truth. He shows us how we would really behave if faced with the supernatural. We can be fearful and persecuting but also unfailingly merciful. In the flawed priest, we see what it truly means to love someone to death.
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on March 4, 2012
Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a magician with words, and this tiny novel casts a spell. It feels like he's working magic on his readers. It is a compact book that has to be read slowly in order to understand and appreciate what Garcia Marquez has to share with us. It is a sad tale, but I never cried or felt depressed while or after reading it. It almost seemed like a fable to me. His prose is what I call "dense," so you have to trod slowly as if through a forest, but getting to the end is worth being slowed down by the density of this forest. I highly recommend this little book to serious readers who want to be mesmerized by the prose of the master, Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
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on April 25, 2014
This book by one of Latin America's greatest author was beautifully written and provocative. However, I saw little development in most of the characters and having a strange "demon" teenager from a land far away hundreds of years past be the center of the book although one cannot call her the protagonist, was strange. There were many interesting depictions of life in the Americas in ancient times with a profound look at the catholic Church and Judaism. I always felt like an observer and usually I would rather find myself somewhere closer to the center of the novel. I found that when I put it aside I didn't really think about it.
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on February 5, 2012
This is a beautifully written book that exemplifies all the best of the magical realist style. The narrative is more briskly paced (and I found it more engaging) than that of Love in the Time of Cholera, but the descriptions are haunting and evocative. In particular, the various characters that populate the story are delightful. I found myself surprised at every turn by Garcia Marquez' ingenuity and creativity in imagining the life stories of these people, and their relationships with each other. I read this book years ago, and still find myself thinking (positively) of it frequently, which is about the best thing I can say about a book.
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on March 22, 2013
My journey with Of Love and Other Demons by Gabriel García Márque transitioned from a long and arduous journey to one of appreciation and admiration for a great classic. The book is about the decision of one father to put his daughter into a convent following an incident where she is bitten by a rabid dog at a South American seaport. There, she is determined to be possessed by a demon and a Priest is designated to keep watch over her--only to realize that he is in love with the girl.
When I first picked up this book, it was for the purpose of challenging myself to read it entirely in Spanish. Within the first 40 pages, however, I found that I simply did not have the time to labor over every page and that I would be better off simply reading it in English. Thus, I started over with an English copy of the book. The English copy, surprisingly, did not go much better for me at the beginning, because there are dozens of characters that are mentioned in the first chapter alone that I could not separate within my mind. This was quite a challenge for me, especially because I felt that the characters were often indistinguishable from one another--there were multiple marquis, bishops, slaves, and medicine men. Thus, I started again and created a character list that I kept in the front of the book. This was the trick! The story was much clearer to me once I had something to refer to, and I was finally able to focus on themes and the beauty of the story rather than just trying to keep the characters straight.
As is popular in many works of Third World literature, there is a common theme of the injustice of the social hierarchy to this book, as well as the question of the identity to which one should try and conform. The Marquis' daughter, Sierva María, was seen as a wild woman throughout the book, as she was more likely to sleep in the slaves quarters than in the main house with her parents and would often lash out and verbally and physically abuse her caretakers at the convent. Innately she seemed to align with the workers more that she could with her indulgent mother and her father. Her family always ridiculed her acting so savagely, but seeing as she was born out of the lustful, animalistic tendencies of her mother and father, it seemed fitting that she would be an animalistic person who prefers the company of animals and "barbaric" people.
I was unsure of my feelings towards this book until about half way through, when García Márquez began making allusions to the idea that Sierva María served as a Christ figure for the story line. Always a sucker for a good "passion of the Christ" theme, I began to play close attention to religious allusions. When Sierva María was escorted to a convent on Palm Sunday by her father in order to begin treatment for the possibility of an exorcism, I became more than excited. Coincidental? I think not. Further, on Good Friday, there is a general feeling of "terror" in the air in Haiti. Márquez writes, "No one had ever seen swallows s*** in mid-flight or heard the stink of the excrement interfering with ordinary life." (86.) Okay, pending doom. My interest began to peak, as on Easter Sunday a character named Delaura prays to Sierva María, saying "For you I was born, for you do I have life, for you will I die, for you I am now dying." (88.) This could possibly be construed as a plea of love, as the character develops a furtive love for her, but in my interpretation it seems as if he is praying to Sierva María to be his savior
In all, I found this book to be incredible. It's themes of passion and temptation were well developed, elegantly worded, and relatable to the reader. Because of this, this book could appeal to a wide age group, ranging from those who are looking for a love story that preys on the vices we all face, to those who are looking for an intense piece of literature which they can scrutinize page by page. I highly recommend it.
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on October 19, 2014
Marquez continues to make you dig deep into your emotions & bring out fragments of feelings the way only he can. Of Love and Other Demons, is another such tale of love, passion, faith and agony. Sierva Maria, the Marquis's daughter is bit by a rabies infected dog and on discovering the wound, the father after consulting the Bishop, who reckons she is possessed by a demon, sends her to a convent prison, so as to confine her and not let her bring shame to the family.
Distraught & helpless, love finds her in the most unexpected way, Father Delaura, the priest entrusted to exorcise her demon. The two set out on a tale of romantic journey that only Marquez is capable of narrating. As with all of Marquez's writings, the expression & poetic approach enthrals you through the course of the book, but it is the end that holds you in its grasp and makes you think over and over again.
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on May 31, 2016
I liked immensely the writing, prose is like delicious candy which melts beautifully and at times you have to stop to not only just take it all in but from fear it will finish soon. BUT honestly whole story felt meaningless and somehow very hard to connect to.
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