Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Today I thought I’d finally share this review for Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, which honestly was such an experience to read both in terms of the plot and the clever ways he brings in the dark history of Columbia.
However, this isn’t the first Marquez novel I’ve read.
I started with One Hundred Years of Solitude that I really enjoyed and reviewed. But it was a bit of a drag in the middle, and I had to power through for that amazing ending.
However, I will say that Marquez is the king of open endings.
His endings make you feel like whatever you hope for to happen for the characters in the end, will actually happen because he completes the novel at a climatic and momentous point.
“…the girl raised her eyes to see who was passing by the window, and that casual glance was the beginning of a cataclysm of love that still had not ended half a century later.”
Now coming back Love in the Time of Cholera, the story isn’t just about two people Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza.
It isn’t about Florentino harboring a never ending love for Fermina for the past 50 years and counting, after she rebuked him when they were young. It isn’t about Fermina marrying a Dr. Juvenal Urbino instead, the kids she has with him, or a married life that is full of ups and downs, and eventually becomes a widow, only for Florentino to re-announce his undying love for Fermina.
“It was the year they fell into devastating love. Neither one could do anything except think about the other, dream about the other, and wait for letters with the same impatience they felt when they answered them.”
Or how the two eventually form a friendship, and their love blossoms in old age where they literally sail into the sunset. Oh no, it isn’t about all that. It is just a small part of Love in the Time of Cholera.
“Humanity, like armies in the field, advances at the speed of the slowest.”
You see the story is as much about the people these two characters are connected to, their families, friends, cousins, random neighbors, landlords, uncles, aunts, lovers, secret mistresses, and so much more. It is a whirlwind story of not ceasing to love just because an epidemic in the form of Cholera has taken over their country.
“The problem in public life is learning to overcome terror; the problem in married life is learning to overcome boredom.”
And it is clever, how like Marquez doesn’t shy away from mentioning the dark past of Columbia as to how people died on plantations and their bodies swamped up the rivers. Or how the many wars Columbians faced didn’t stop the sparks of love igniting in different hearts all over.
“It was a lone voice in the middle of the ocean, but it was heard at great depth and great distance.”
I was particularly hooked by the way Fermina was described.
The way her utter devotion towards Florentino in the beginning, was fuelled by the rebellion towards her father which instantly changed once she came back to the same town, and her father giving her the control of her house. It almost felt as though she loved him to feel like she could have control on one thing in her life, despite how strict her father was.
“Fermina, he said, I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love.”
Similarly, it baffled me how Florentino was your 19th century play boy, or a rake (as they say in Bridgerton), and you’re left with complicated feelings as to whether you want to sympathise with him or actually feel disgusted by his long long list of affairs. There even was a Lolita angle in his storyline where the girl eventually commits suicide.
“The world is divided into those who screw and those who do not. He distrusted those who did not—when they strayed from the straight and narrow it was something so unusual for them that they bragged about love as if they had just invented it.”
I really didn’t get what was the point of adding her storyline. It just left a bad mark on the entire story or maybe that was the point? To show how Florentino despite his frail state and silent demeanor actually is a bad person underneath. And Fermina, who so far is shown as a bird in a cage with a fire within her to become something, or someone, isn’t as bad as we assume when she leaves Florentino very early in the book.
“He did not dare to console her, knowing that it would have been like consoling a tiger run through by a spear.”
Nonetheless, I truly believe that if you want to get the best out of this book, you should be a bit older, and a bit more experienced. Like for myself at 26, I still believe I am too young for this book and the depth it contains about marriage, love, affairs, and passion. Maybe another re-read in a few years time or at 36 may make me something different.
Guess I’ll have to wait and find out.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 4.0/5.0
- Favorite quote: “It was a meditation on life, love, old age, death: ideas that had often fluttered around her head like nocturnal birds but dissolved into a trickle of feathers when she tried to catch hold of them.”
- Reader level: It is fairly easy to follow.
- Should you read: Definitely. If you enjoy Marquez then you’ll enjoy this.
- Would I read it again: Oh yes. I’ll have to.
Till next time,