Love in the Time of Cholera Love in the Time of Cholera discussion

Is this really a "love" story?

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Skylar Burris I'm on page 74, and I'm wondering if I should press on and bother finishing this. Here are my thoughts so far:

What is love? If you think the protagonist's story is an example of love, then love involves great displays of melodramatic behavior and the constant nursing of a maudlin attitude. It does _not_ involve actually, truly, intimately, spiritually or psychologically knowing the object of your love. Love in the Time of Cholera is billed as a great romance, but so far "love," as depicted from the point of view of the main character, not only in his own life but in the way he views the lives and loves of others, is infatuation at best, unhealthy obsession or masochism at worst. (He speaks of how it is only love -- and not fear -- that can motivate three women to allow themselves to be subservient to and abused by one man, for instance.)

I've plodded on through the rather slow-paced story, and I have noticed flashes of genius, moments of unique humor, and some moving scenes and phrases, but, on the whole, I am not yet captured by the story, nor do I feel the least bit sympathetic towards the protagonist. My favorite part of the book has been, towards the beginning, the writer portrayed the marriage of Dr. Urbino and his wife, especially the feud over the soap. The doctor's death scene was masterfully done. In fact, I think this relationship, with its domestic squabbles, it's grudging tenderness, and its final dying throes of regret, actually came closer to depicting what "love" means than does the main character's relationship with the heroine. For love is a shared life with and a commitment to someone you come to know truly, intimately, in all their mundane frailty. It is not mooning over someone who is largely a figment of your imagination and obsessing about your supposed love between bouts of meaningless fornication.

Is it possible that is the point? Because from reading the reviews and blurbs, it seems the reader is supposed to take this as a great love story, which I do not think I can or will. But if, through all those pages, often tinted with beauty and rare writing, the over-arching message is that love is NOT, in fact, infatuation, I may find it rewarding in the end. But if I am really expected, through this great massive hulk, to see this man as a romantic, and not as the barb of satire, then I'm not sure I will come out liking the book in the end.

So, tell me, without too much detail in the spoiling way--does his story represent "love," or does it tell us what love is not really?

Diane Skylar - I have been thinking about your comment/question ever since I read it yesterday. And I must respond to say "Yes, please press on and finish it". It was one of my favorite books, which I savored and did not rush through (it is what my book club calls a "meaty" read like you say massive hulk); and you're right that it is slow paced, but I think that is is writing style.

I agree with you regarding the relationship between Dr. Urbino and his wife. That is love; no doubt. In fact, I think that she "grew" to love him, perhaps they both even "grew" to love each other, but love nonetheless. The story spans such a vast number of years, that we see the characters mature, change, grow old; there is the relationship between Fermina and her grown children when the story wraps back to the present.

Also, I don't think that Florentino deserves (or wants) your sympathies - believe me if you continue on you will sympathize with him less and less. but yes, he does love Fermina, although he does not completely "pine over her" throughout the story.

I look forward to your comments/reviews if you continue on and in fact finish the book. I was very happy to have read it. In fact, we had read 100 Years of Solitude prior to reading this one and quite honestly, I was not blown away by 100 Years, although I hate to admit that to too many people. I think Love in the Time surpasses 100 Years by far. Good luck with it!

Cindy Skylar, I had the same feelings when I started this book. I put it down twice, but the third time I picked it up I found it to be engaging, thoughtful and a love story. Keep pressing on, you will be glad you did.

Kelly I had the exact feelings reading this book. I expected a great love story, but was sorely disappointed (until the last portion of the book). I had an especially hard time sympathizing with Fermina or even liking her for that matter. However, although the first 2/3 of the book was hard to muddle through, the end of the book redeems itself and is obviously the reason for the hype and good reviews. In the end you'll be pleased you've finished the story.

message 5: by Skylar (new) - added it

Skylar Burris Thank you all! I have decided to lay it aside for a time but re-visit it again in the future to give it a second try.

Anita It's great to read these comments. I'm in the middle of the book and felt the same way, but the pace is picking up a little. And Florentino is being fleshed out much more, so that I can see that his way of loving isn't necessarily ideal, simply one way of expressing love among the many ways the different characters express it. It's getting fascinating in that regard.

Ellen Skylar, I agree with your observations whole-heartedly. Please post here again when/if you ever finish the story to let us know what you think of the remainder of the book.

message 8: by Skylar (new) - added it

Skylar Burris Thanks. I'll return here and let you know if I press on. If I do, it probably won'te be anytime soon.

Julie I'm not sure why this was touted as a love story. I guess I didn't focus on that aspect of it, as I was just plain blown away by the complex and beautiful language. More than anything, I thought this was the story of life. And just precisely how life goes...waiting, impatience, disappointment, moments of clarity and compassion, making the wrong decision, realizing that you were wrong, how passion can disintegrate...

I liked how the author, without judgment, described the beings of the characters. And that face value either can or cannot indicate who a person really is. And that actions do not even necessarily indicate who a person is or their motivation. This was a rather more philosophical text.

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