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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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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 April 9, 2017
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on May 10, 2013
If you've read other books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, you will know it's worth your time. Fabulous book with that bittersweet melancholy that make his books so pleasurable.
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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 December 4, 2015
This book was anything than expected as it had been highly recommend. It was slow, hard to follow at times, and did not captured my attention. Yes there story sounded very nice but the author was all over the place till the very ending. Not impressed with this book.
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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 October 27, 2015
I guess it goes without saying that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a modern master and Of Love And Other Demons (1994) reflects this mastery. It reads like a classic, it is a story of love, faith, ignorance, and reflects the history of the new world in the shadow of Europe. As I read it, it felt as if it was a classic text passed down from generation to generation-it seems curious that such a novel could have been written in modern times. Marquez creates a time machine that takes us back to a time that was more focused on religion and heresy than science, but also creates a timeless love story in the process. Stylistically it is such a pleasure to make one's way through the prose. Another classic form a modern master.
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on September 30, 2005
This novel is a quick read that is thick with gorgeous prose. GGMarquez is a master of juxtaposing human love and suffering. An attack on the intolerance of the catholic church runs through the novel and is supported by perfect imagery. The characters come alive and their suffering and joys become the readers.
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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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