Syd's Reviews > Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
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Dec 25, 10

bookshelves: classic, cultural, movie, favorite, fiction
Read in October, 2003

** spoiler alert ** An unrequited love story. It is the story of a woman pursued from the first buds of puberty to the sour smell of old age by one man. For fifty-three years, seven months and eleven days and nights he does nothing but obsess over the woman. She accepted his love as a young girl but only from a distance and only through letters. When she finally meets him face to face, she realized that the love she felt for him was an illusion and broke off their engagement.

He persisted to love her from afar. He anguished over her and fell ill with the biting sting of unrequited love, which seemed to some to resemble cholera, an epidemic sweeping the Caribbean latitude. He was sickly to begin with, an old man even in his youth.

The woman married another man, a doctor; they lived together in unhappy happiness for fifty years. It was a successful marriage. Estranged, hard, and effected by the pendulum of emotions that people feel for each other over fifty years of learning to love and live together. However, after her husband’s death the woman still wondered if it was real love or just the illusion of love.

Upon her husband’s death, after waiting fifty years for her to become a widow the sickly romantic man approached her again. With the smell of flowers from her husband’s casket still permeating the house, the man offered his eternal love, again. Eventually, through a series of well-written letters about love and the heart’s method of mending itself, the man wins the woman’s favor and they begin the romance they never started. The story ends with the two elderly people traveling by riverboat, apparently forever.

This book was hard for me to dive into. Marquez writes with so much detail that while the story does move forward it seems to trudge along. Also, I found the main characters to be somewhat despicable.

The man who lived for nothing but love seemed very weak. He also had a habit of seeking to fill the void in his heart with broken woman. Towards the end of the story, he ruins a young girl by interfering with her and then casting her aside once he began his rekindled love affair with the woman.

How am I expected to feel happiness for this spindly little man? Yet, I know how he feels in his loneliness and desire for true love.

And the woman, though married for fifty years, endures the infidelity of her husband. She seems to live is a haze just above reality. She never seems to know if the emotions she feels are reality of illusion. Yet, she is stubborn in her resolve to rebuke love time and again.

How can I feel joy for her? Yet, I’ve been her before. I see that in myself.

Overall, it was a good book. I am fond of Marquez and I’m so glad that my friend introduced me to him. This book was thick, descriptive, and full of nooks and crannies. Noteworthy quotes:

"He was a different person: the lover who never showed his face, the man most avid for love as well as most niggardly with it, the man who gave nothing and wanted everything, the man who did not allow anyone to leave a trace of her passing in his heart, the hunter lying in ambush–this man went out on the street in the midst of ecstatic signed letters, gallant gifts, imprudent vigils at the pigeonkeeper’s house, even on two occasions when her husband was not on a trip or at the market. It was the only time, since his youngest days, when he felt himself run through by the lance of love."–pg. 216

“We men are the miserable slaves of prejudice,” he had once said to her. “But when a woman decides to sleep with a man, there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral considerations she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about.”–pg. 329

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Comments (showing 1-4 of 4) (4 new)

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message 1: by Kwesiga80 (new)

Kwesiga80 nice book to read lots of thanks to Gabriel. pliz friends dont leave out this book.


Vanessa You found the characters despicable, and the book hard to get into, yet you gave it *five* stars? Perhaps you misunderstand the meaning of the star system, otherwise I might have to guess that you rated it highly because other people told you it was good.


message 3: by Syd (last edited Feb 17, 2012 07:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Syd Hmm. No. I recommend it because it made me feel something, which is the criteria I use to judge a book.

The fact that I found the characters despicable means that they were written very richly. If I'd found the characters shallow (much as you've found my review) then I would have give the book a lower rating. The other point, I failed to make is that the author's use of very real, imperfect, characters in the context of a surreal idealized romance is compelling.


Hala Alnahas I totally agree with you , love the intriguing confused sense you get from the characters ,,, and that's the reality of them :) .. Gabriel had an ubrupt objective way to describe men and all about'em .. No matter how dispocable and honest at the same time ..
Thanx again


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