Petra Eggs's Reviews > Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Memories of My Melancholy Whores by Gabriel García Márquez
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May 01, 2009

it was amazing
bookshelves: fiction, reviewed, 2015-reviews, 10-star-books, 2016-150-reviews
Read in September, 2015

Update I've been reading other reviews and it seems that people think this book is about paedophilia, some Lolita book. Nothing could be further from the truth. The whores and loveless sex without dreams or commitment didn't bring the old man happiness. Now, not having sex but just sitting beside a sleeping girl and dreaming and falling in love with the dream, has brought about a sea change. Pure love and romantic daydreams have made him happy and this happiness has seeped into every aspect of his lire, until, despite his years he walks with a spring in his step and a smile on his face and this happiness makes him a hero to all who see him.

This is a brilliant book. It is the last book, the final jewel inset into the crown that is the literature of GGM. Do not hold back because of what you've heard. Do not misinterpret and see what isn't there. This book is the musings of a life without much happiness, not sex, and the girl is no more molested than was Snow White resting in her glass case with only her beauty on show.

I wrote this update purely because both on GR and in my shop people "have heard" about this book and so don't think they want to read it. December 4th, 2016 Original review follows.
______

To enjoy this book you have to enter the mind and world of this old, old man, living the last years of his life in poverty in the once-grand, decaying house of his youth. His career never rose above second-rate reporter, he never married and never even fell in love. His personal relationships with women were limited to the whores he paid for. A most unfulfilled life.

But then, for a present for his 90th birthday, he gives himself a 14 year-old virgin, a would-be whore. Exhausted from menial labour and drugged-up with valerian by the brothel madame, she sleeps every night they spend together and for the first time in his life he falls in love. In love with the idea of his sleeping beauty.

This is a poetic, sensual book that many reviewers, unable to see beyond their own ideas of fitness, have condemned as tawdry, a paean to pedophilia and just plain sick. But it isn't. It's the last flowering of a rose; touched by frost it should have died but instead is more glorious, more beautiful because it is so unseasonal, a real surprise. What it says about the nature of men's love for young beauty is age-old: look good, be quiet and demure, and let him be the dominant one, is taken to an extreme here. It worked for Snow White, it worked for the Sleeping Beauty and it works for Delgadina too.

Love changes everything. Despite his 90 years, the old, old man walks with a spring in his step, his head held high and smiling to the world. He has an epiphany, 'sex is the consolation one has for not finding enough love' and writes about love in his weekly columns in the local newspaper. This brings him the fame, respect and friendship he had craved all his life. In his 91st year, at last, he has found fulfillment.

Ultimately, Gabriel Garcia Marquez says through this book: Never Give Up.

Read May 1, 2009
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Reading Progress

01/31/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-50 of 54) (54 new)


message 1: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia Based on your review, I will seek this book out. I had wanted to read it in the past but after seeing other reviews, decided not to. Thanks for this insight.


Petra Eggs It is a beautiful book and definitely worth reading, a real gem.


Kwesi 章英狮 This is a very short book the same with his time left living in this world. I don't know why his books are too expensive for very thin book.


message 4: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia What a wonderful comment from Kwesi.Sadly, he is probably not long for this world. Unfortunately, books are getting expensive but for the pleasure they bring,it is well worth the investment.


message 5: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I love the rose references.
The last flowering of the [old] rose, within the context of a concern about whether he deflowered the [young] rose or rosebud.
Two extremes in the life of a rose.
Then the fact that his career never "rose" above second-rate reporter!

["Je vois la vie en rose": I see life in rosy hues]


Petra Eggs Ian wrote: "I love the rose references.
The last flowering of the [old] rose, within the context of a concern about whether he deflowered the [young] rose or rosebud.
Two extremes in the life of a rose.
Then t..."


I would love to claim I had the depth of vision in my rose reference that you did in your comment but I didn't :-( He never did deflower in the book, he just sat by her bed and dreamed while she slept. He wasn't that pervy and anyway at his advanced age it was probably beyond him anyway (which might have been one of the rasons why the author decided not to put him to the test!)


message 7: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye So he never rose to the occasion?

I have since read "Ulysses" and roses play a big part in it as well.


Petra Eggs LOL. Are you this witty at dinner parties?

Ulysses 'suffered' a horrid accident when I was reading it, so apart from the bunch of flowers I don't know what more part roses played in it.


message 9: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Petra X wrote: "LOL. Are you this witty at dinner parties?

Ulysses'suffered' a horrid accident when I was reading it, so apart from the bunch of flowers I don't know what more part roses played in it."


I used to be, though nobody invites me to dinner parties any more.
I thought they died out in the 80's or post-kids.

I made a bunch of references to roses and flowers in my review:

http://www.goodreads.com/story/show/2...


Petra Eggs Even if my copy hadn't become 'waterlogged', I would never had the interest to gain the depth of understanding of the book you have.

If you live on a very small island, dinner parties are de rigeur for any kind of social life. Come to think of it, I don't actually have a social life, I have Goodreads :-)


message 11: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I still can't tell whether you did actually drop your book in the bath or whether you're just kidding.

Anyway, you make a great point in the review of "Melancholy Whores": "To enjoy this book you have to enter the mind and world of this old, old man..."

I think it applies equally to James Joyce, not to mention my reviews.

I love the fact that you live on two little islands, the other being England.

Goodreaders should have more dinner parties together.


Petra Eggs Ian wrote: "I still can't tell whether you did actually drop your book in the bath or whether you're just kidding."

;-)


message 13: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye Now I understand what the critics mean when they say that "Ulysses" occasionally descends into bathos.


Petra Eggs LOL

did that just come to you or did it take a while?


message 15: by Ian (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye ;-) That would be telling.

See, the thing that appealed to me about your predicament was the irony that "The Odyssey" was a "logbook" of Odysseus' travels across the waters of the Aegean Sea, whereas your copy of "Ulysses" might have descended into the waters of your bathtub and become a "waterlogged" book.

It took me a little while to realise this, and a little while longer to write it, but I wasn't prepared to get out of bed.

I still feel that I'm missing a joke about "waterlogged" though.

I hate it when I sail right past and miss the point.


Petra Eggs The last line of my review should have made it clear if I really dropped Ulysses in the bath tub or was just making excuses!

I understand why you enjoyed Ulysses so much though. You don't miss a beat, you must have caught every literary reference.


message 17: by Ian (last edited Aug 31, 2011 10:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ian "Marvin" Graye I honestly thought there was a chance that you had dropped your audiobook in the bath.

Hopefully, we can just laugh about this exchange over dinner one day. On one of our islands.


Petra Eggs Ian wrote: "I honestly thought there was a chance that you had dropped your audiobook in the bath.

Hopefully, we can just laugh about this exchange over dinner one day. On one of our islands."


I've just seen this.

Yes. One day.


Petra Eggs I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


message 20: by PGR (new) - rated it 4 stars

PGR Nair A very crisp review and some original observations too. I have read it and enjoyed it too, though it is vintage Marquez


message 21: by Robert (new) - added it

Robert I hope I enjoy it as much as you did.


Petra Eggs I think the trick is to allow yourself to get into the mind of the old man and not to see things from a modern Western perspective.


Shaun I cringed through the first few pages thinking what did I get myself into. Then I was completely blown away.


Petra Eggs Shaun, I know what you mean. But you have to read it to know it. (view spoiler)


Shaun I loved his writing so much I immediately bought two other books.


message 26: by Petra Eggs (last edited Mar 05, 2013 10:23AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Petra Eggs Which ones? did you get? My favourites are Love in the Time of Cholera and Innocent Erendira. Those are 7 star books. All other GGM ones are 5 star!


Shaun Of Love and Other Demons, which I read and enjoyed, and The Autumn of the Patriarch, which is in my "to read pile" at home. They were the only two books of his in the bookstore. I've promised myself I'm going to get to them all, though. There's something about his writing that gets under your skin in a good way. In the two books that I've read, he demonstrates an exceptional understanding of himself and others.


Petra Eggs I loved those two books as well. I can't think of anything of GGM I didn't love. I agree, there is something about his writing. He deserved his Nobel prize.


message 29: by Alan (new) - added it

Alan Hunter Havent read it yet, but SEX@90 THAT IS HARD 2 BELIEVE...


Petra Eggs He didn't have sex. He just sat and watched her sleep.


Joanna Choo Beautiful review :-)


message 32: by Suzanne (new)

Suzanne This seems very interesting and do well reviewed, Petra! My social life likes Goodreads too lol! I've been lucky to meet a handful of my Aussie friends :)) I've never heard of this book or author, thanks for telling us about them.


message 33: by Pramod (new)

Pramod Nair Nice review, Petra.

I think the trick is to allow yourself to get into the mind of the old man and not to see things from a modern Western perspective.

And that comment too. :-)

Even though i haven't read this volume, that comment from you is a true piece of wisdom, which is applicable to a whole lot of books; especially for books from an entirely different era.


message 34: by Sketchbook (last edited Sep 12, 2015 12:11AM) (new)

Sketchbook Thoughtful review, Petra. A couple offended femme GRs represent the unlived / unloved blinkered members of what is called "our world."


Petra Eggs I changed the review. I added a last paragraph and hit send. Got a power cut and I see it posted to my feed but the paragraph is missing. Oh Goodreads... how I love thee sometimes.


message 36: by Lynne (last edited Sep 12, 2015 07:19AM) (new) - added it

Lynne King It sounds a wonderful book Petra.

Excellent review too and so beautifully put.


Petra Eggs It's better now, I've just added a proper ending and the meaning of the book (to me).


message 38: by Lynne (last edited Sep 12, 2015 08:04AM) (new) - added it

Lynne King I loved the penultimate paragraph here Petra and I've just ordered the book. I've found that I can get really good second-hand books where the postage is actually more than the price of a book.


message 39: by Steve (new) - added it

Steve Lovely review, Petra.


Petra Eggs Thank you.


message 41: by Iris P (new) - added it

Iris P What a beautiful review and I think a wonderful homage to Garcia Marquez.

Read many of his earlier works but never this one. I should make a point to read it soon.

Thanks for review Petra, really enjoyed it...


Petra Eggs Thank you. It is a very short and very beautiful book.


message 43: by Tom (new)

Tom Mathews What a moving review. Thanks for sharing your impressions.


message 44: by Sorento62 (new)

Sorento62 Sounds like there are some themes in common with Love in the Time of Cholera? How would you compare the two, Petra?


Petra Eggs Sorento62 wrote: "Sounds like there are some themes in common with Love in the Time of Cholera?"

If you are going to write about love, then there are always going to be commonalities and synchronicities. I don't really see that the two books are related. However others might and some librarian might take it upon themselves to turn it into a series (as they have so many other books unrelated except that they are by the same author on the same theme and authors do tend to have favourite themes).


message 46: by Sorento62 (new)

Sorento62 Petra X wrote: "Sorento62 wrote: ... in common with Love in the Time of Cholera?" I don't really see that the two books are related.

I've read Love in the Time of Cholera, but am basing my impressions of ...Whores only on your review. Commonalities to me would be,
1. a message celebrating and standing up for the legitimacy of finding love in old age
2. a lifetime of lots of sex without committed love for the sexual partners, even if appreciating them sincerely
3. an old man having a romantic relationship with a girl (without sex)

You sum up the meaning of ...Whores as "Never Give Up." I see Love in the Time of Cholera partly as a meditation on and affirmation of living life fully in old age. Those do seem like common themes to me.

But because to you the books seem unrelated, I'm guessing you draw a different central meaning from Love in the Time of Cholera?


message 47: by Nishat (new)

Nishat Wonderful review! Beautiful!


message 48: by Petra Eggs (last edited Feb 25, 2016 07:55PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Petra Eggs Sorento62 wrote: "But because to you the books seem unrelated, I'm guessing you draw a different central meaning from Love in the Time of Cholera? ..."

Love in the Time of Cholera is a man who never stopped loving and longing for his first love a real woman, no matter what time went by. My Melancholy Whores is a man who never experienced love or even wanted it, and in extreme old age finally falls in love, but with an idea, and that's good enough for him.

Authors, like artists, often have preoccupations that they draw upon for their work. They aren't always even conscious of them.


message 49: by Jessica (last edited Feb 25, 2016 08:46PM) (new) - added it

Jessica "It worked for Snow White, it worked for the Sleeping Beauty..." It worked for me too! Haha :D I'm not 14 and I'm not with a 90-year-old man. But the age gap between me and my husband had made lot people scoffed or eyed us with scrutiny.

I don't know how good this book yet, but the summary and your review made me want to read this book and write a review myself.


Petra Eggs It's a short book that requires no effort to read but had me thinking about it for a long time afterwards. I love that about some books. Madame Bovary did that to me too. It is as if they were real events or people.


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