Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

by - November 08, 2009

This was the first book we read at our bookclub. It was my choice (unfortuantely :D). The following review was written after our discussion at the club.

Before I get into the review, I would like to brief you about the author. The facts given below were taken from different websites.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, also known as Gabo, was born in Aracataca, Colombia in the year 1928. He was raised by his maternal grandparents. As a child, he was mesmerized by stories spun by his grandmother and her sisters - a rich mix of superstitions, folk tales, and ghost stories that fired his youthful imagination. And from his grandfather, a colonel in Colombia's devastating Civil War, he learned about his country's political struggles.
When his grandfather died, Gabo was sent to live with his parents for the first time. He attended university, where he studied law in accordance with his parents' wishes. His studies were interrupted when the university was closed, and he moved back north, intending to pursue both writing and law; but before long, he quit school to pursue a career in journalism.

In 1982, García Márquez was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for his masterpiece ‘100 years of solitude’. His distinctive style – magical realism - an artistic genre in which magical elements or illogical scenarios appear in an otherwise realistic or even "normal" setting. It has been widely used in relation to literature, art, and film.

Review of Love in the time of Cholera
My first choice was Audacity of hope…. by Barack Obama. However, I changed my mind thinking it could be a very heavy read right in the beginning and it would be better if we went for a fiction and something lighter. 100 years of solitude came to my mind, but being a very huge book I thought I will go for another novel written by the same author, and thus Love in the time of Cholera was chosen. I must say that it was very much a random choice. But little did I know that I had chosen a book that was very dear to some of our page turners.

When I started reading the book, I was put off by the descriptive (narrative) style of writing. Being used to reading fast paced novels, the amount of detail in LITC (love in the time of cholera) nagged me. However, since I was the one who nominated the book I kept reading. Halfway through the book, I told one of my friends not to read the book. I regret it now. We can never judge book until we have finished reading it. I have to say that the book, although not the type I usually read, has certain charm to it. It talks about love, age, death, disease in ways that has never been told before.

Three main characters of the novel are – Fermina Daza, Florentino Ariza and Juvenal Urbino. Florentino Ariza falls madly in love with Fermina Daza (love at first sight I should say) and they exchange letters and telegrams for over three years. However, the moment Fermina sees him up close and personal, she rejects him saying it was all an illusion. Later, at the age of 21, she marries Juvenal Urbino a renowned physician and a very rich man. However this doesn’t deter Florentino and decides to wait for her even if till eternity. While waiting, he also tries to replace Fermina by having affairs with literally any woman he can get hold off (some six hundred of them!). After over 50 years, when Urbino passes away trying to catch a parrot (!), Florentino comes back and proposes to Fermina again. He starts writing her letters again and is able to win her this time. This is more or less what happens.

I should say that during the meetup we came really hard on the book. If Gabo were present during our discussion he would have found our views really amusing. We went round and round about ‘Love’ but were never able to decide what the word actually meant. We agreed upon one thing though - Florentino’s feelings for Fermina wasn’t love. Maybe it was in the beginning, but it turned into lust later. As one of the members pointed out – he wanted her so bad, as she was the only one he couldn’t have. It was more of a desperation and misery than love.

I have mixed feelings about the book. However, I would never tell anyone not to read the book. I would always say it’s worth reading.

Rating - 2/5

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