Love in The Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

(Translated by Edith Grossman)

I previously read Marquez' novel 'Memories of My Melancholy Whores' and disliked it thoroughly. So it was with some trepidation that I started 'Love in The Time of Cholera'. My favorite aspect of the book was how well Marquez describes the Latin American setting of the novel. The book is worth reading simply for that. The story involves complex characters and is woven beautifully as well.

The stately Fermina Daza is married to Dr. Juvenal Urbino for decades when he dies; Florentino Ariza takes the opportunity to return to Fermina Daza with his confession of love after more than 50 years. Marquez then takes us back in time when Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza were teenagers, and how Ariza had wooed her then. Knowing that she ended up marrying Dr. Urbino, the question is whether she will now accept Florentino Ariza's love after all these years.

So there is the romantic love of Florentino Ariza for Fermina Daza. There is, equally strong and beautiful, the marital love between Fermina Daza and Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Finally, there is sexual / emotional love between Floerntino Ariza and his innumerable lovers. None of the forms 'love' takes seems better or worse, and each is examined in great depth. Therein for me lay the beauty of the story.

The aspect that troubled me to a great extent was the one I couldn't tolerate in 'Memories of My Meloancholy Whores' - the 'love' bordering on pedophilia, especially given the sixty or greater age difference between the protagonists! In the present novel, this is further compounded by the fact that Florentino Ariza, in his single-minded wait for Fermina Daza, selfishly and conveniently forgets that a girl / woman can love him so deeply it hurts her.

The book examines death as much as anything else, and the exploration of old age and ageism in 'love' is interesting. That love can end up being companionship for the daily rituals of life is beautifully described. That death - as in the case of Dr. Urbino - can be undignified and humorous is also exemplified really well.

I will switch back to Kundera for a bit, but I might have to read more by Marquez soon!


chica said...

I read this book about 9 years back. In my defense that's why I don't remember much about it. All I remember is liking it a lot. :)

I'm glad I've started this blog, it helps me remember the books I read. At least 9 years later I may not say the same about any other book.

Padfoot and Prongs - Good Books Inc. said...

Interesting blog! Thanks for stopping by.

Anil P said...

Marquez will always remind me of his brilliance in The Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Novice Writer said...

Nice review..Makes me want to read this book!

Sukhdeepak said...

Very good blog. Thanks for sharing such a useful information.

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