March 27, 2008

Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera
by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

I'm afraid I cannot give this the review it deserves because of this nasty flu. It has left me so weak I can't even think without laying down for a rest.

Florentino Ariza is a passionate man, a man in love. Fermina Daza is the object of his love but she rejects him early on. Though he is heartbroken, he will not give up. Though she marries another, he does not give up still. As he waits, for decades, he never gives up on Fermina Daza as his only reason to live and love.

I started reading this book prepared to love it but I should have known this would be no romantic love story. It is probably the most unromantic love story ever written. All of the characters are painfully real. Marquez draws a crude picture laced with the ridiculous and mundane. But it remains a love story to the end.

Florentino Ariza reminds me of Don Quixote throughout the story. He names his mistress not based on any merit in her but simply because she is present; then he dedicates his life to her in the face of no encouragement at all. In the face of so much discouragement the reader wonders where Florentino's strength comes from. Will he ever get the girl or will he realize what a pointless endeavor this is? Surely it must be a pointless endeavor.

Marquez is a storyteller of a different type. Rather than start at point A and lead you through all the important events he prefers to tell you all the little nuances that make up a personality. Then he throws in a few events from the main characters lives. By the time you get to the end you feel as if you have always known them and that you can predict exactly what will happen to them and how they will react to their situations. It's certainly a different way to read a book.

I have a few problems with the book. Florentino Ariza has an affair with a 12 year old girl that is a relation under his care. This is very disturbing for me. Is this a cultural issue or a literary device? Either way it was a major roadblock for liking his character. And the words sex and love are used synonymously throughout the book. Since when did they become the same thing? I think there are great bones here for a beautiful and romantic love story and I hope that is what they have used for the movie. Otherwise, I'm not sure there is much of a pleasant experience waiting for me.


Jeane said...

I've always wanted to know more about this book. Thanks for the review.

Trish @ Love, Laughter, Insanity said...

I have this one on my shelf, but I've heard such mixed things about it that I haven't really WANTED to read it RIGHT NOW. I read One Hundred Years of Solitude a year ago, and while I liked it the writing style is very different than what I am used to. I'm wondering how much of his style is reflective of Colombia writing? I haven't read enough SA lit to know, but House of the Spirits by Isabelle Allende was the same type of style.

Hope you feel better soon.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the thoughtful review. I've been wondering about this book.

Framed said...

I'm like Trish. The book is sitting on the shelf and I can't bring myself to read it. I'm afraid after your review that I may just give it away. Sounds like a lot of work.

Petunia said...

Jeane and Hope-glad it was helpful.

Trish and Framed-I'm always a bit uncomfortable to think my reviews are turning people away from a book, especially one so well known and written by an awarded author, but all I can do is write my impressions.

Laura said...

I recently finished reading this book, and I had very similar feelings as you. The fact that there was little to no dialogue made reading it difficult for me, along with the disturbing parts--such as the affair with the young girl and the countless other "relationships" with women. I think I will pass on the movie!

Anonymous said...

This book has been on my shelf for a while now. I bought it because I liked the title, but haven't had the time to read it.

I knew nothing about GMM's writing style before this, seeing as I haven't read a single of his books, so thanks for the great review.