Jennie's Reviews > Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
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's review
Jun 30, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: important-but-craptastic

GGM is an amazing writer, his prose is fluid and draws you in. I wish my Spanish was still good enough to read this in the original, rather than the translation.

Unlike many of the people that disliked the book, I had no problems with Florentino sleeping around. His promiscuity was no issue for me, I mean, people do this all the time. I struck me as an honest dipction of how some people live. And I even get that he could never really kill his love for Fermina. My personal opinion is that everyone you love you love with a different part of your heart and love in a different way. What I couldn't like was his inability to incorperate his past into his present, to live in the present, to embrace life and enjoy those who cared about him. (Yes, I get that this was intentional.) I felt bad for him, but in the same way I feel bad for addicts...they live in a hell of their own actions. Which, when you think about it, is the case for much of humanity.

I never really got the sense of love from either Florentino or Fermina. I got obsession pure and simple. I do remember being head over heels for someone when I was a teenager and I get that obsessive is the best way to characterize those feelings. But to classify it as love, and a love that is worth dwelling on for 50 years, I never got that in all of the beautiful writing in the book. I felt like I could identify much more with the kind of comfortable, familiar love that is clearly expressed between Fermina and Juvenal. The two "loves" are very different, and the problem is that the marriage and their relationship is so much better illuminated than whatever existed between Fermina and Florentino. Admittedly, the relationship between Florentino and Fermina became much more understandable and relatable when they reconnected during their twilight years.

The only time that I really disliked Florentino's character was in the incident with America. I can overlook the pedophilia, but I can't overlook that he took advantage of someone he was supposed to care about. I can't overlook his abuse of power and I can't overlook his lack of empathy for her. What really "got my goat" was his total lack of remorse when his own horrible actions caused her death.

All in all, I thought this was a beautifully written book with a horribly boring plot. Its worth reading just for the prose, but if I were going to recommend a GGM book it wouldn't be this one, it would be 100 Years of Solitude.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
June 30, 2008 – Shelved
June 30, 2008 – Shelved as: important-but-craptastic
June 30, 2008 – Finished Reading

Comments (showing 1-9)

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Stephanie I think your comment was as well written as GGM's story. Interesting that you were as disturbed by Florentino's relationship with America as I was, and I agree, not for the pedophilia. I don't think he ever really grasped the idea of love. Though, he understood lust, which can commonly be mistaken for love...

message 8: by Amelia (new) - added it

Amelia Totally agree- the whole caretaker thing was what made it exceedingly creepy. Ruined the book for me!

message 7: by Stephanie (new) - added it

Stephanie Please hide this - spoiler! Thank you!!!

message 6: by Tom (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tom O’Connell Very mature review. I found your assessment fair; it's clearl that it comes from an open mind. I appreciate that you've justified your rating and not just spat a bunch of hyperbole about how morally corrupt Florentino was for being so promiscuous.

You're right, the stuff about America was hard to swallow. I believe Marquez put it in there to demonstrate how selfish Florentino was, and to show that his pursuit of Fermina was far from noble. I consider him something of an anti-hero, up there with Heathcliff and Dorian Gray. The reader grows interested in them, understands them, but ultimately cannot form a complete bond with them because of the immensity of their flaws. I think that's pretty powerful (and, to an extent, true to life; there are no true martyrs in real life).

Anyway, I'm digressing. I'm just glad you understood Florentino's journey and didn't instantly write him [and the book] off because of his indiscretions. Great review.

Jennie Hi Tom,

I'm glad you enjoyed my review. I try to give fictional characters the benefit of the doubt, particularly when written by writers with talent. I'm not always so lenient with the writers themselves, although I should probably give that a try.

In any case, it sounds like you have read a lot of reviews that left a bad taste in your mouth. He was certainly a character that many people, particularly Americans, would have a strong reaction to. It can be hard to accept a character that embraces a way of life that everything around you has drilled into you as being wrong.

Erica Please let readers know your review contains spoilers!

message 3: by Liz (new) - rated it 4 stars

Liz Blank I do not agree that your review is a spoiler.

Erica The review is not a spoiler; the review contains a spoiler. If "his own horrible actions caused her death" is not a spoiler, then I don't know what is. Maybe the editors forgot to mention in the back cover that she gets to die, or maybe they didn't consider it a crucial event in the story.

Lucifel I guess you have pretty much answered yourself..."I felt like I could identify much more with the kind of comfortable, familiar love that is clearly expressed between Fermina and Juvenal."
One can't blame oneself for it, for one has no experience of one's own to relater to, is familiar with.

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