Alison's Reviews > Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
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's review
Jul 19, 09

bookshelves: ew25best
Recommended for: realists/fatalistic romantics
Read in July, 2009, read count: 1

** spoiler alert ** "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."

To read such an excerpt, you might be led to believe that Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Love in the Time of Cholera" is a passionate love story that spans a lifetime, detailing an exciting and beautiful affair. It is, in a way. By another definition, however, a romance is called "an embellished idealised lie." And by those standards, LITTOC, feels much more like looking in the mirror and not liking what you see (the stretch marks, the cellulite)...much more like real life.

If you had in mind a South American "The Notebook" when you selected this've come to the wrong place. The love of Garcia Marquez's telling here DOES involve an affectionate relationship between an elderly couple. But this author chooses to peel back the layers of his characters and include "warts and all" details, such as one partner administering an enema for the other, or brushing his false teeth. He even addresses the characteristic "scent" of the aged....what he calls the "smell of human fermintation."

The story, which starts when our heroine is a teenager, spans a lifetime. But for the majority of the book, she is married to another man, a man she possibly never even loves. And the one who pines for her is not standing by waiting patiently for the chance to step in. When he is not being consumed by cholera-like episodes of insomnia or diarrhea, he is having loveless sex with hundreds of women, some of them married, many of them years older than he is, one of them fourteen years old.

So this is a non-illusory romance, told from the viewpoint of a poet, who is possibly an unreliable narrator. It unfolds during a plague, when life and living are fragile, and unsightly. Major themes include love as disease, aging, suffering, reality vs. illusion, and solitude...the sorrow that comes from being full of love and from being without love...the aloneness of a misunderstood life, the solitude of death and the ones it leaves behind.

Garcia Marquez's strength is by far his style of writing and his unexpected approach. He has his own way of construcitng sentences and of story-telling that are poetic and uniquely brilliant, to the point of winning him a Nobel Prize for Literature. His use of "magical realism" lends meaning and magic to his birds, his flowers, his music and allows him to liven up his atmosphere with apparitions and haunted dolls.

The story here is not glossy or delicate. It is real and at times, reveals all of the faces of love...the patient and the sweet, but also the ugly, and the deadly. Don't come if you're not prepared to look at life under a microsocpe.
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Reading Progress

06/27/2009 page 58
16.67% "am really trying to savor this one..." 1 comment
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message 5: by Vic (new) - rated it 5 stars

Vic Hi there

saw that you're reading love in the time of cholera.great book. i loved it. hope u loving it too.

there's always a first time: i think it's the first time i commented on a book in one of these comment boxes. how awful of me.


Suzanne Garcia Marquez is not an easy read. He mixes native mythology with immigrant "religion". This is good but keep in mind that this is translated. I often believe much is lost in translation.

Alison Interesting comments, guys. Can't believe I got Vic to comment on a book! Holy smokes. I am about 30 pages in. I think the writing is wonderful, and the story, but I think it's going to take me a while to finish. I've been reading all week and only 30 pages in! :)

message 2: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer I really liked this book, too, Alison.

Meghan I forgot to write in my review that I thought certain points were lost in translation. But overall, I loved this book! It was beautifully written, but it also made me think. Great review too. My thoughts more eloquently put.

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