Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

What can I say about this book other than it made me understand love on a deeper level than ever before. Hence, just in time for Valentine's Day, I give you a book review about love, one of the greatest topics the world has ever known.

The author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, uses "magic realism," which is a strange blending of the fantastic and the mundane. It was a strange reading experience, because I do not do well with exhaustive detail and intense focus on a single topic or part of the story. Yet with love being the meat and potatos in this story I couldn't peel myself from the pages.

It is set in a coastal Colombian town between the years 1880 to 1930. Florentino Ariza falls in love with a young Fermina Daza. Her father doesn't like Florentino and takes her away on a journey. His plan works and Fermina Daza returns to find that she doesn't love Florentino and goes on to marry a wealthy and respected doctor. After 50 years of marraige, the doctor dies and Florentino returns to Fermina Daza's life.

There are a variety of beautiful things going on in the story. First there is the comparison of love and cholera. Anyone who's felt true love knows the pains associated with it. I've never had cholera, but I have felt love. From the descriptions in the book, the stomach is turned the same way by both.

The author goes to explore all the different types of love - true, platonic, sexual, incestial, timeless and a variety of others. Most of these are represented through Florentino, who is a well read, poetic man tormented by the wait for Fermina. Well, sort of tormented. I believe during his wait he has just over 600 affairs. Yet, somehow, the story remains romantic in a ferocious manner.

Finally, I completely fell for how the author treated love in old age. At the end of the story, the two love birds are about 70 years old. Again Marquez turns a mundane thing (a couple of old geezers) into something fantastic (poster "children" for growing old together). I have a very strong feeling that this kind of ageless love is present in my relationship and it's a warm feeling, to say the least.

I have read two other love stories before this one - the Namesake and Persuasion. Although the two of these love stories were fine, I didn't hear the beauty in the authors' words as I heard in Marquez's. He makes me FEEL the love - from it's ecstasy to it's gut-wrenching suffering. Love is a roller coaster that takes a person from high to low in a matter of seconds. That is what this book is. It is vivid and magical.

A final word on the book...it was translated from Spanish by Edith Grossman, who my colleague and fiction-guru, Kitty, said was reknowned for her translations. The proof is in the pudding. I can't imagine much of the meaning is lost as the translation comes through seamlessly. Bravo!

Highly recommended for the hopeless romantics out there.


Steve said...

I always thought that it was an intersting conflict, his love for fermina and the fact he slept with 600 women while he waited for his time.

You should definitely check out the movie Serendipity now that you've read this book. I have it on dvd if you wanna borrow it.

Anonymous said...

Now I want to read it. Well, once I'm done with all the required reading for school that is. ;)

Serendipity is cute movie. You'll like it if you haven't already seen it.

Anonymous said...

Ah, Im writing an essay on this book currently, and it is truly a beatuful book...will try to watch Seredipity soon...sounds cool!