Ben Hobson's Reviews > One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
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Sep 19, 2011

it was amazing

I read this book while on the bus in Europe. It is a testament to how wonderful it is by the fact that I a) am regularly motion sick and b) was in Europe, and I couldn't put it down.

The style of this book is like no other I have ever read. I had no idea what was happening as I started it. I hadn't read a thing about it besides that it was Gabriel Garcia Marquez's most iconic work and that he had received the nobel prize in 1982. It has won numerous prizes. That is all I knew. I had no idea about the plot or style or voice or characterisation. Just that it was highly recommended.

This is how I like to come to a book. Not for it's subject matter. It's all in the execution. You often hear of people saying things like 'I have a great idea for a novel. I should sell it to you and you can write it' - a great idea does not a novel make. It's all in the execution. And the execution is what this novel is about.

I thought as I began that Gabriel was summing up, or setting a scene. It was very fable like. It was two chapters in before I realised that I was going to get to a scene. It was all in the setting! Gabriel himself describes (in the back of the book) how he came to find his unique voice. He said he simply copied his Grandmother, who when he was a child would tell him fantastic tales in a matter of fact voice. This makes for a novel that moves your heart, engages your mind and somehow remains simple, while being incredibly profound.

Check out this excerpt. This is the beginning of the novel.

-----Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice. At that time Macondo was a village of twenty adobe houses, built on the bank of a river of clear water that ran along a bed of polished stones, which were white and enormous, like prehistoric eggs. The world was so recent that many things lacked names, and in order to indicate them it was necessary to point. Every year during the month of March a family of ragged gypsies would set up their tents near the village, and with a great uproar of pipes and kettledrums they would display new inventions.-----

Do you see what I mean? He's setting a scene, right? Wrong! The whole book is written this way. And it's a delight.

Throughout the novel we are focussed on one family, the Beundias, and their lives within a small town known as Macondo. Their lives are often fantastical, tragic, heartfelt and moving. It is impossible to tell where a character will go. As an instance, one daughter, born to one of the Beundias (who are all named Arcadio or Aureliano - which becomes quite confusing) is so beautiful she get's taken up to Heaven! Another character has a fling with a carpenter, who is announced by butterflies wherever he goes. I'm not sure how this sounds with my describing these events this way - strange, weird, not awesome. Trust me. It's heart-wrenching. It makes regular life seem like a fairytale.

The ending of the book, which has built from the beginning, is so profound and confusing and mesmerising that I don't think I'll ever forget it.

This book gets 5 stars. Totally. Would everyone like it? Possibly not. It's strange, sure. If you like crime novels, thrillers, or anything of a commercial ilk then you may be in trouble. But if you like it when your books challenge, move and confuse you, then you're set.

If you love to read, you'll love the adventures of the Beundias!


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