Love in the Time of Cholera: A Book Review

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the story of three people. Florentino Ariza who as a teenager sees Fermina Daza, falls in love and decides he will marry her. He is a poet and spends hours writing to Fermina who eventually believes herself to be in love with him. Her Father does not approve and removes Fermina taking a trip to his home country. Unknown to him they maintain a correspondence and agree to be married. On her return Fermina takes one look at Ariza and decides that he is not the man for her and marries a doctor Juvenal Urbino. This leaves Ariza heartbroken but determined that one day she would be his as Urbino was eleven years older than Fermina. Although he keeps his heart for Fermina his body is shared around 655 women in all sorts of ways enabling an examination of different types of love from a mother’s love to perverted love in the extreme. We would classify him as a stalker as he watched Fermina from afar, and at closer quarters as she lived her life with her husband and children.

The characters are extremely well drawn although I didn’t find any of them likeable; Ariza I positively abhored. The story spanned three people’s lifespans in a culture that was quite foreign to me. It was set somewhere in the Carribean. Marquez himself is a Columbian. I found the names difficult to follow as to my eye they were unfamilair names and therefore similarly sounding to my ear – this meant that I had to concentrate and often backtrack in the early stages to remind myself of who was who.

The writing was lyrical. Beautiful. However this also made it difficult to read as the dense narrative with its intricate language made it necessary to concentrate. The chapters were long (at one point on my kindle it told me the chapter was going to take me 2 hours + to read) with no passage breaks to make a natural stopping point. It meant that every time I halted I had to reread the last few pages to get back into the story. Despite this I wanted to read it. It just took me more time than a normal novel would take and it is one of the few books that I would consider reading again as I believe there was much that I didn’t take in on the first reading.

There were definite themes. Ageing being a big one. We go from teenager to into their eighties and it examines the changes that are wrought in that time, the perceptions others have to love when older and the difficulties that arise.

Another theme is love in all its forms and how what is seen isn’t necessarily what is the reality. My guess is the name of the book comes from the symptoms of love being similar to those of cholera but that may be too simplistic as I believe there is a lot of symbolism in this book that isn’t necessarily apparent on a first reading. The river, for example, is in my opinion, a metaphor for Aziza’s life. If you read it let me know what you think.

Would I recommend this book: Yes I would. It is quite different to anything I have read before (Joseph Conrad is the closest and strangely he was mentioned in it) and so beautifully written.

About Irene Waters 19 Writer Memoirist

I began my working career as a reluctant potato peeler whilst waiting to commence my training as a student nurse. On completion I worked mainly in intensive care/coronary care; finishing my hospital career as clinical nurse educator in intensive care. A life changing period as a resort owner/manager on the island of Tanna in Vanuatu was followed by recovery time as a farmer at Bucca Wauka. Having discovered I was no farmer and vowing never again to own an animal bigger than myself I took on the Barrington General Store. Here we also ran a five star restaurant. Working the shop of a day 7am - 6pm followed by the restaurant until late was surprisingly more stressful than Tanna. On the sale we decided to retire and renovate our house with the help of a builder friend. Now believing we knew everything about building we set to constructing our own house. Just finished a coal mine decided to set up in our backyard. Definitely time to retire we moved to Queensland. I had been writing a manuscript for some time. In the desire to complete this I enrolled in a post grad certificate in creative Industries which I completed 2013. I followed this by doing a Master of Arts by research graduating in 2017. Now I live to write and write to live.
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4 Responses to Love in the Time of Cholera: A Book Review

  1. I can relate to the difficulty of keeping tabs on foreign names and places. I read a true account of an American journalist who meets underground Japanese mafia, known as the Yakuza, which was fascinating reading in itself. I did however, have to keep a log of the various characters’ names, food, places and Japanese terminologies. I had to refer to my notes quite often but still enjoyed the saga. It astounded me that the author managed to live to tell the tale.
    Should I venture into reading ‘Love in the Time of Cholera,’ I will certainly return to express my view of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Charli Mills says:

    Funny, but “Heart of Darkness” came to mind as I was reading your review, Irene! Perhaps it is the deep dive into the darker side of life in both books. Interesting book.

    Liked by 1 person

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