06. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

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06. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Post  twunny on Sat Feb 13, 2010 12:48 pm

Finally got around to reading this one. It caught my eye due to its intriguing title and presence on so many 'read this book if it's the last thing you do' lists.

This is the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, who fall in love as teenagers. Upon her return from a father-enforced vacation, Fermina Daza has a sudden epiphany, rejects Florentino Ariza, and marries a doctor. But Florentino Ariza never gives up on her or on love. He takes many lovers to try to fill the void she left in his life, but nothing satisfies. When her husband dies, they are both old. Too old for love, thinks everyone.

This book took a while to grab me. It begins with Fermina Daza's doctor husband and his investigation into a suicide on Pentecost, which also happens to be the day he dies. The reader does not even meet Florentino Ariza, who I'm going to call the protagonist, until 50 pages in. That struck me as meandering. But as everything developed, I felt that I was just caught in the storyteller's mind. One thought on the life of Florentino Ariza would lead to a memory from 50 years before, which would grow into a story about Fermina Daza's only trip up the river that later became the source of Florentino Ariza's livelyhood and community importance. And that would follow itself until it began to branch out toward something from another year or character. And so on. The development eventually struck me as genius and gorgeous.

And additionally, the book is filled with glorious sentences that could not have been born in English. "On the other hand, Florentino Ariza was very taken with the charms of nudity, and she removed his clothes with sure delight as soon as she closed the door, not even giving him time to greet her, or to take off his hat or his glasses, kissing him and letting him kiss her with sharp-toothed kisses, unfastening his clothes from bottom to top, first the buttons of his fly, one by one after each kiss, then his belt buckle, and at last his vest and shirt, until he was like a live fish that had been split open from head to tail" is a sentence that could only have been born in Spanish. And Garcia Marquez uses his sentences well.

This felt like a much longer book (348 pages) but I felt like it could have been so much longer. Even the tertiary characters were so fascinating, I wanted to know more about them and hear their stories. It didn't have the depth or flavor of One Hundred Years of Solitude, but it has a melancholy and romance that is all its own.

Recommended, but I really believe one has to be in the right mood for this to have the full effect.

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