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Love in the Time of Cholera
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1001 book reviews > Love In the Time of Cholera - Garcia Marquez

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Kristel (kristelh) | 4258 comments Mod
Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel García Márquez
This one by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is by far my favorite. I've put it off so long as I find him hard to read but this one was great. Love the use of symbolism and even though most consider this a love story/romance, I loved it because it was about aging and how love changes as we age. A story of two young people who fall in love in the youth but do not marry each other. Instead Fermina marries a doctor with good social standing. Florentino, the boy, is a womanizer and a romantic. He rises in his business career and in his sexual exploits of 622 affairs while he waited for Fermina to be free again.

I was really drawn into the book by the birds; the parrot that escaped and was in the mango tree, the perfumed crows and the pigeons. Birds represent temptation and danger. The prostitutes presented as birds but especially the perfumed crows. Perfume that masks the underlying reek of carrion.
Other symbolism included the title love in the time of Cholera; cholera as metaphor for love--messy, incontinent. Florentino with his love sickness and constipations and enemas.
Water as cleansing at Urbino's funeral on Pentecost. And someone also mentions the final ride on the river. Then note that the "river has changed over time from full of trees and live to no trees to fuel the boat (love) and no manatee (mother's nursing their babies) as the lovers take there final and lasting trip on the river in a boat flying the flag of cholera.
Themes; Narrative as seduction, narrative as destruction, Love as an emotional and physical disease. Aging and death.

This book hit a lot of my favorite subjects especially aging and death.
Great book and I thought the magical realism was light.


message 2: by Gail (last edited Sep 20, 2018 10:34AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Gail (gailifer) | 1536 comments I read Love in the Time of Cholera as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month Diversity Challenge.

I loved reading this book and found myself even forgiving of some of the things that other reviewers have complained about, particularly the relationship of women to the men. The nature of the writing (in translation) and the grounding in a richly described and sensual world allowed me to contemplate the relationship of love and disease in a way that was not confrontational or designed to be shocking.

Our two male characters offset each other in that one is born to a high class and one is a bastard and therefore unable to climb in class even as he climbs in his business. Florentino Ariza, the bastard, falls madly in love with Fermina Daza when they are both young and do not really know what love is. Fermina eventually matures and realizes it is not love that she has for Florentino. She willfully ends her infatuation and marries Dr. Juvenal Urbino, a good man who also is flawed in his relationship to love and sexual obsession although he only allows himself one affair with a mulatto during his married life. Fermina contemplates what love is frequently and realistically throughout the book. She knows that the submission to the will of her husband is not love but that their companionship as they age could be the essence of it. When she is offered a chance to again have someone in her life after Urbino passes on, someone who does not define her but can give her companionship she slowly accepts it without expectation. Florentino hides his obsession from the world, telling no one but Fermina, but in the meantime he has 100's of affairs with everyone from considerably older women to a young girl who he is supposed to be taking care of (shades of Lolita). I did not enjoy Florentino but I did find the author's grace compelling in presenting Florentino's condition analogous to the disease of cholera. There are many moments when there is suspension of belief, the whole story requires a certain suspension of belief, but it does not lean on magical realism and therefore I found that ultimately the story was about love in the time of growing old and that alone has a kind of magic.


Kristel (kristelh) | 4258 comments Mod
Gail wrote: "I read Love in the Time of Cholera as part of the Hispanic Heritage Month Diversity Challenge.

I loved reading this book and found myself even forgiving of some of the things that oth..."


Enjoyed your review!


message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

It took me nearly a month to read this when recently I'd been finishing a book a week. Sometimes I didn't want to pick it up; I'd lost interest in the story once Fermina Daza was married and found I didn't really like the characters of Fermina & Florentino Ariza...until the end of the book when they really became nicer people. GGM did this on purpose - while Fermina was married, Florentino's lothario lifestyle was dislikeable (especially with the fling with the 14 year old - how creepy was that?!), Fermina became a trophy wife and the most likeable character, that I really enjoyed reading about, was Juvenal Urbino (I raced through reading about him and found I wasn't as interested in the other two). By the end of the book I realised it was not just a character story, or a romance novel, it was a commentary on social roles, class, a little politics and religion. The descriptions of the landscape and nature of Colombia made me feel closer to the country. And as always in GGM's writing it was word perfect. So many parts of this book I just had to reread to saviour the beauty of his wordplay...maybe that's also why it took me so long to read. I'm glad this book reminded me to take my time to read and enjoy every aspect of high quality literature. Thanks, GGM! This is a beautiful book.


Leni Iversen (leniverse) | 483 comments The writing is evocative and absolutely beautiful, and drew me in with it's many quirky events. The plot itself I found long-winded and increasingly revolting. Morbid obsession, stalking, rape, and the grooming of a minor are all romanticized. And it's not even the case of seeing through the eyes of an unreliable narrator, the book has a third person omniscient narrator telling us not only what the characters are thinking and feeling, but presenting a lot of it as objective truths. Often just mentioned in passing, the sufferings and even the demise of women are just there as a backdrop to further the journey of a male character who feels bad about their fate for a while, but mostly for his own sake and not for theirs. One female character, we are suddenly told, has been searching for decades for the man who brutally raped her when she was a young girl, because she had fallen in love with his "vigorous love making". This rather surprising revelation is not furthering her character development or story arc, it is just there to inform the reader of why she doesn't have sex with one of the main male characters - she wants only her rapist.

I was going to rate this book three stars, as a compromise between the magic of the language (even in translation!) and my dislike of the story. But then I came to the ending, and I hated it too much. I wanted a tragic ending of Greek proportions involving divine retribution, lighting strikes, castration, and then they all die of Cholera. I would have settled for less, but I hated how it really ended. So I rated it two stars in sheer furious retribution for América Vicuña.


Gail (gailifer) | 1536 comments Leni, I loved your ending to the book. It both made me laugh but also was totally appropriate reaction to the book.


Karen | 294 comments I agree with everything in Leni's review. I wish I had written it.

Beautiful writing wasted on a story which sounds better on the description on the back of the book than the reality found between the covers. The author examines love in all its forms... including some rather distasteful ones. This is not your typical romance as there is no idealisation of characters or even the emotion at all.

There is a great sense of place and I am hoping I will enjoy other books by the author more than this one.


Daisey | 272 comments Love in the Time of Cholera was my March TBR Takedown book, and it took me most of March and April to get through it. This is not my idea of a great love story, and many times I set it down and waited a while before picking it up again. I detested Florentino Ariza through most of the book; yet, when I read the final pages, I can‘t quite say I hated how it all came together either. I did really enjoy the parrot and wish it had been in the whole story.


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