Brina's Reviews > One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
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it was amazing
bookshelves: classics, hispanic-culture, historical-fiction, nobel-prize-winner, magical-realism, family-saga

Magical realism has been one of my favorite genres of reading ever since I discovered Isabel Allende and the Latina amiga writers when I was in high school. Taking events from ordinary life and inserting elements of fantasy, Hispanic written magical realism books are something extraordinary. Many people compare Allende to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, who is considered the founder of magical realism. Until now, however, I had not read any of Marquez' full length novels so I had nothing to compare. On this 50th anniversary of its first printing, One Hundred Years of Solitude is the revisit the shelf selection for the group catching up on classics for January 2017. An epic following the Buendia family for 100 years, Solitude is truly a great novel of the Americas that put magical realism on the map.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Aracataca, Columbia in 1927. Influenced by his grandmother's vivid story telling, Marquez decided at an early age that he wanted to be a writer. Upon completion of la Universidad de Cartagena, Marquez began his career as a reporter and soon began to write short stories. His earliest stories were published as early as the 1950s, yet in 1964 while living in Mexico City with his young family, he completed Solitude in a mere eighteen months. Finally published for the first time in 1967, Solitude sold millions of copies, establishing Marquez as a world renown writer, leading to his receiving the Nobel Prize in 1982.

Jose Arcadio Buendia and Ursula Iguaran lived in an isolated Colombian village where branches of the same family intermarried for centuries, resulting in children born with pigs tails or looking like lizards. Determined to end this cycle of incest, Buendia and a group of pioneers crossed the mountains and founded the village of Macondo. In the mid 1800s, Macondo was a fledging community, with Buendia, an alchemist, its most respected member. Jose Arcadio and Ursula went on to have three children: Aureliano, Jose Arcadio, and Amaranta. These names and the personality traits that distinguished the original bearers of these names repeated themselves over the course of a century.

Throughout the novel and the century of change to Macondo, all the Jose Arcadios were solitary individuals and inventors. Determined to decipher the gypsies secret to the universe, they holed themselves up in an alchemist's lab, rarely seen by the outside world. The Aurelianos, on the other hand, were leaders of revolution. Colonel Aureliano Buendia started thirty two civil wars yet lost all of them. A relic who fathered seventeen sons of the same name and grew to become Macondo's most respected citizen, his spirit of adventure and discovery repeated itself in the descendants who bore his name.

Women held the family together. First Ursula who lived to be 122 years old and then her daughter Amaranta, the women expanded the family home and raised successive generations so that new Jose Arcadios and Aurelianos would not repeat the mistakes of their namesakes. Yet the same mistakes and characteristics occur: rejected love, spirit of adventure, lone soles willing to live for one hundred years in solitary confinement. Additionally, the two characters who predicted all the events of the novel were not even members of the Buendia family: Pilar Ternera, a card reader who specialized in fates and could look at a Buendia to know his future; and Melquiades, a gypsy who befriended the original Jose Arcadio, leading all the successive generations to a life of solitude.

At first Marquez equates solitude with death. Later on he includes individuals happy to live out their days alone. In order to make a point of his examples of solitude, he interjects countless examples of magical realism: a man bleeding to death down a street, yellow butterflies announcing a man's presence, a rain of epic proportions that would not end. With these and other countless examples throughout the text, Marquez created a magical realism genre that is still widely in use by Latino writers and others around the world today.

While used to the magical realism genre, Marquez usage and prose were a treat for me to read. His writing is so captivating, I read the entire novel over the course of a day because I desired to know how the Buendias cyclical existence would either repeat itself or change once and for all. Between the prose and magical realism and a memorable story for the ages, One Hundred Years of Solitude is an epic, genre changing, extraordinary novel. Authors of the last fifty years can credit Marquez' influence in their own work. I feel privileged to have finally read this saga deserving of its numerous awards and top ratings that eventually lead Marquez to earn a Nobel Prize. One Hundred Years of Solitude, a novel for the ages, meriting 5 wonderful stars.
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Reading Progress

April 3, 2016 – Shelved
April 3, 2016 – Shelved as: to-read
April 3, 2016 – Shelved as: hispanic-culture
April 3, 2016 – Shelved as: historical-fiction
April 3, 2016 – Shelved as: classics
December 14, 2016 – Shelved as: nobel-prize-winner
January 5, 2017 – Started Reading
January 6, 2017 –
page 37
8.87% "Finished first two chapters."
January 7, 2017 –
page 399
95.68% "Denouement!"
January 7, 2017 – Finished Reading
January 8, 2017 – Shelved as: magical-realism
May 5, 2017 – Shelved as: family-saga

Comments Showing 1-40 of 40 (40 new)

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Doubledf99.99 looking forward to your review.


Jennifer I am looking forward to your review. I only managed to get through about 50 years of solitude myself...


message 3: by Lucia (new)

Lucia I am also interested in your review. I am looking forward to read more by this author, his prose and literary skills didn't leave me indifferent either!


Rebbie What an awesome review! I agree his writing is very captivating. This is one of ny favorite books of all time. :)


Brina Rebbie, I can see why this is one of your favorite books of all time :) House of the Spirits is my favorite books of all time because I read as a young teen. Yet it is obvious how much influence Marquez has on Allende's writing. In a nutshell, wow!


message 6: by Jan (new) - rated it 5 stars

Jan This is a very special book, rich in thought and imagination, that can be interpreted in a number of different ways depending on the background of the reader and how deep he or she wishes to get.


Toni Beautiful review, you've done it proud. haha It's definitely a classic for me and a top five favorite. So happy you read it.


Brina Thank you so much Toni. I am happy I read it, too. I am not ready yet to think of Allende as a poor man's or in her case woman's Marquez. I rather view her as a branch on his magical realism tree. Now I want to read all of Marquez' novels and writings.


message 9: by Paula (new)

Paula Kalin Lovely review, Brina!


Brina Thank you, Paula :-)


message 11: by Kevin (last edited Jan 08, 2017 08:50AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kevin Ansbro So pleased that you've caught up with the work of Márquez (one of my literary idols), Brina.
And such a superb, in-depth review!


Brina I have people asking "what is magical realism". If they want to know they can read this book. I want to savor this book and then hope to read GGM's complete works.


Kevin Ansbro Brina wrote: "I have people asking "what is magical realism". If they want to know they can read this book. I want to savor this book and then hope to read GGM's complete works."

Yes, I'm always amazed that so many people don't 'get' magical realism, or even know what it is.
This is a perfect introduction.


Brina The edition I have -- 50th year edition in English-- explains it in a study guide at the back of the book. This is definitely a perfect introduction for the uninformed.


message 15: by Dana (new)

Dana I have had this book forever and need to read it. I love magical realism. Thanks for the great review!


Brina Dana this is something special so I hope you get to it soon :)


Amina Rayan I am impressed you red this in a day! Wow! Shows you really enjoyed it :)


Brina Thanks Amina. Yesterday it was too cold to leave the house so I sat and read all day and kids read and played board games. If weather doesn't warm up soon I could be doing a lot of reading a book a day in the next few weeks.


Dorie  - Traveling Sister :) wow I read this so many years ago but I still remember it was great, nice review


Brina Thank you so much Dorie. It is a great book to revisit every so often.


message 21: by Praxedes (new)

Praxedes Excellent review of an excellent novel!


Brina Thank you so much, Praxedes!


Doubledf99.99 Great review!!


message 24: by Ellie (last edited Jan 09, 2017 02:32AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ellie Terrific review, Brina, of a wonderful and important novel.

100 Years was my first experience of magic realism and it was one of those rare and exciting works that really changed and opened up the way I read. Reading it made me a better, a different reader and showed me how to read a different kind of literature.

I really feel I should reread it. Your review made me remember the powerful experience I had reading it the first time.


Brina Ellie I agree. When you can read an innovative work like Solitude it shows that any book is conquerable. It goes on to my list of books to reread every 5 years or so. It's that good.


message 26: by Alondra (new) - added it

Alondra Brina, that was an excellent review. I usually don't read long reviews: I am impatient that way. Yours, though. Kudos! It was interesting and makes me want to pick up this book sooner, rather than later.


Brina Alondra, I really appreciate you taking the time to read my review. Magical realism has been my favorite genre for years and knowing it's origins is quite the reading experience I hope you get a chance to read Garcia Marquez.


message 28: by Jann (new) - added it

Jann Very comprehensive review Brina! It sounds intriguing. I would like to recommend another in the magical realism genre for you which I read in 2015. By Manuel Mujica Lainez, it is called The Wandering Unicorn and I really enjoyed reading it.


Brina Thanks, Jann. I have heard The Wandering Unicorn mentioned and will have to check it out.


message 30: by Faith (new) - added it

Faith Justice Thanks for the review, Brina. This one has been on my TBR shelf for way too long. Time to dust it off.


Brina Faith in sure you will enjoy this.


message 32: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Marsch Beautiful review - thanks. I read Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez several years ago and was disappointed - too much glorification of of a pedophile, basically, in an effort to romanticize the relationship. He made an effort to describe an enduring love of decades, but it was unconvincing. There's no arguing, though, that Marquez is a master of description and the sweeping story. Maybe I'll give this one a try!


Brina Thank you so much Cindy. Part of it isn't the Latino culture of machismo. If you can get past it, this is a beautiful book.


message 34: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Marsch Brina wrote: "Thank you so much Cindy. Part of it isn't the Latino culture of machismo. If you can get past it, this is a beautiful book."
Yes, that is pretty clear. :-)


message 35: by Nina (new) - rated it 5 stars

Nina Ive I have t read Allende but will look for one now. Is there a novel you would recommend?


Vjekoslav Benussi Just finished reading second time and definitelly best book Ive ever red. However, very difficult to read, not for everyone.


message 37: by Cynda Cat (new)

Cynda Cat Beautiful review :-)


message 38: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg Brina, great review. This is one fabulous book, one of my favorite books ever. I'm thankful the Pulitzers passed on this one: this book does NOT belong in any category with "Goldfinch" or "Lincoln in the Bardo".


Brina Greg this book is where magical realism got its start but it would have been ineligible for a Pulitzer because Marquez was not born in the US. And yes much higher quality than many of the award winners.


message 40: by Greg (new) - rated it 5 stars

Greg Thanks Brina, I didn't know that!


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