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Love in the Time of Cholera (Oprah's Book Club) Paperback – October 5, 2007
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“This shining and heartbreaking novel may be one of the greatest love stories ever told.” --The New York Times Book Review
“A love story of astonishing power…. Altogether extraordinary.” --Newsweek
“Brilliant, provocative…magical…splendid writing.” --Chicago Tribune
“Beguiling, masterly storytelling…. García Márquez writes about love as saving grace, the force that makes life worthwhile.” --Newsday
“A sumptuous book…[with] major themes of love, death, the torments of memory, the inexorability of old age.” --The Washington Post Book World
About the Author
Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love In The Time Cholera, The Autumn Of The Patriarch, The General In His Labyrinth, and News Of A Kidnapping. He died in 2014.
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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. But, let it be said that I don't, fundamentally, believe that there is just one "true" love for any person, and I don't believe in love at first sight, so that definitely taints my views on Florentino's decisions.
Second, one such `affair' that Florentino has, when he's in his seventies, is with a FOURTEEN year old. And not just any fourteen year old, but a girl he has been asked to act as the guardian over. The last time I checked, that was child molestation. And statutory rape. It's absolutely disgusting. I mean, I get that Marquez is trying to say that you can love at any age and that being old doesn't mean you're dead inside and useless, but seducing the child you're taking care of kind of leaps right over that point and lands firmly in a puddle of ick.
Third, another woman Florentino is involved with explains that the reason she's never married is because she's been waiting to find the man that raped her one night when she was younger--so she can marry him. The rape, as it is described, involves the man grabbing her and forcing himself on her on a boat. She doesn't see his face, doesn't know him and he never speaks to her. So the only interaction she has with the man is that he grabs her on a boat and rapes her. The very idea that someone would create a character who enjoys being sexually violated by a complete stranger to the point where she "falls in love" with the man is infuriating. I mean, liking it a little rough or being attracted to an aggressive man is one thing--this is entirely another.
Last, neither Florentino or Fermina is a very likeable character. Florentino is an unfaithful lecher who seems to have no remorse for the lives he ruins through his casual affairs (because, as the book explains, it's all about the love...of course it is), and Fermina is a rather dull, stuck-up and, dare I say it, bitchy woman. I really wanted something to like about the two of them, and I just didn't and I also didn't really find myself fighting for them to get together because the only thing ever keeping them apart was themselves. If you want to make yourself unhappy, be my guest. Just don't complain to me about it for 300 pages.
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.
Most recent customer reviews
I've never read the book, I've just always been curious but not enough to read the book.