Love in the time of cholera

by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Paper Book, 1988





New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 1988.


In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career, he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he does so again.

Media reviews

Ik hou van mannen als Márquez. Wijze, erudiete mannen. Ze vertellen mij dat het niet verkeerd is om gematigd en rustig te zijn, of zelfs af en toe te twijfelen. In deze tijd van mediacratie, waar de makkelijk pratende mensen het voor het zeggen hebben, de vorm dus voor de inhoud gaat (en ik iedere keer merk dat ik, tot mijn grote ergernis, ook de neiging heb om aan die trend mee te doen) ervaar ik hen als een oase van rust. Een geruststellende hand op de schouder die zegt dat ik niet altijd op scherp hoef te staan en dat het misschien wel een goed idee is om even een pauze te nemen.
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Suppose, then, it were possible, not only to swear love ''forever,'' but actually to follow through on it - to live a long, full and authentic life based on such a vow, to put one's alloted stake of precious time where one's heart is? This is the extraordinary premise of Gabriel Garcia Marquez's new novel ''Love in the Time of Cholera,'' one on which he delivers, and triumphantly.

User reviews

LibraryThing member Jenson_AKA_DL
If I were called upon to give an idea of what this story is about, I really wouldn't say it had anything to do with love at all. Infatuation, yes. Obsession, definitely. Deviant behaviors, umm...yup to that as well (the pacifier thing really grossed me out!). Basically this is the story of a sorry sort of man and a self-centered woman who see each other and decide to get married via correspondence, never actually speaking with each other. Yes, on the face it sounds sort of romantic but, in my opinion, it really wasn't.

Confusingly, the story starts off near the end of the tale and then moves into flashback mode, which makes up the majority of the book. I will say that the author's method of telling a story is lyrical and descriptive. In fact, I thought the writing was quite good. The problem I had mainly laid in the fact that I really couldn't stand the characters and by the time I was 2/3rds of the way through the book I finally decided that I didn't actually care what happened at the end and gave up. For me to enjoy a book I have to feel a connection with the characters and here I just couldn't feel anything but apathy and perhaps a bit of disgust.

There was also the issue of the font the book which was very cramped and hard to read (this, of course, is no fault of the author). Unfortunately, I don't know that if I had been reading another edition that I would have liked it any better.

I know that I am in the minority for disliking this book and had reservations about writing a review of a story I did not actually finish, but I figure that I did read enough to formulate an honest (if not very popular) opinion of my own.
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LibraryThing member jlelliott
My husband went into a bookstore to get me a book for our first anniversary and requested a love story. He was told that Love in the Time of Cholera was the best love story in existence. It is certainly my favorite work by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, perhaps because it is short on the magical realism that permeates his other novels. Marquez has a gift of taking unlikely characters and situations and turning them into stories that ring distinctly true. There are several types of love in this novel: childish infatuations that dissolve or degenerate into obsession, love that begins as dislike and matures into dependence, friendships, and many sexual pairings of varying emotional involvement. Marquez also describes the Magdalena river with such love that I long to see it, an impossible wish as even during the timeframe of the novel it no longer exits as it once did.… (more)
LibraryThing member bethanydhart
1) You must have patience to read this novel. 2) You must understand that Gabriel García Márquez is frequently lambasted for his plodding rhythm and tangential writing style. 3) Despite all this, it's unlikely you'll regret ingesting this complex tale of obsession, suffering, hypocrisy, and (yes) love. The passion won't be there in your initial perception, but I found it on every page just as soon as I finished the book and closed the cover.… (more)
LibraryThing member mlgonzales
A fifty-year love triangle between Fermina Daza, Florentino Ariza, and Doctor Juvenal Urbino in the late 19th century and the first decades of the 20th century. Literally translated in Spanish, "tener un arranque de cólera," means to have an attack of cholera, but figuratively means to be very angry, in love. In this sense, the novel refers to being in anger that love brings. García Márquez uses third-person narrative to express personally to the reader about the emotional and physical battles the characters face throughout the book. Starting out with the present day upon returning home, Urbino falls to his death after trying to retrieve the household parrot from the branches of a mango tree, leaving his wife, Fermina Daza, a widow. After the funeral, Florentino Ariza approaches Daza and declares once more his vow of everlasting love. She is furious at him and orders him out of the house. The chapters turn to flashbacks from the past. following the first two from childhood to old age.
I have read this book more than once, reliving and enjoying the love that Florentino has for Fermina. How a love that true and pure lasted over the years. This truly showed the the strength of the human spirit of love. In my present day situation, I am to be engaged. My fiancee is back in Morocco taking care of his ailing father. He is dying of lung cancer. It has been 11 months since I have seen him. I could relate to Florentino's constant love affair with Fermina. His willing to just love one woman, for the rest of his life. No matter was what cost or loss, his heart stayed commited.
In the classroom, I would have children draw pictures of what they love to do in their free-time. I would have them share their love for whatever activity by acting them out or demonstrating to the entire class. I would have them express why and how it makes them feel this certain way.
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LibraryThing member jillrhudy
I abhor this novel more than words can express. Florentino is a major stinko, and I was unimpressed when this self-aggrandizing pedophile threw himself at the feet of Fermina after his underaged ward/latest conquest KILLED HERSELF. Good lord. Why did Oprah think this is a romantic book? Why does anyone? I would rather walk on hot coals than read this again.… (more)
LibraryThing member indygo88
As I look over other reviews of this book, they seem to range from very low to very high. And then there are the few somewhere in the middle. I can't sugarcoat it: I had a fair amount of difficulty getting through this one. It's really only a little on the long side as far as novels go, but realistically, it felt like a monster of a book. The formatting of the book largely contributes to this: very few, very LONG chapters, long paragraphs, and minimal dialogue. I think what Marquez is trying to do with this story is present a somewhat non-traditional definition of what "love" is. I don't necessarily disagree with his interpretation, but it requires some open-mindedness on the reader's part. And a lot of patience.

Had this story been about one-fourth the length it was, it would've been more palatable. As it was, I had to force myself to keep going. The writing, to me, was almost too flowery at times, and I don't think there was any one character in this novel that was truly likeable. And because of that, in addition to the other above-mentioned characteristics, I found myself not able to really invest any true feeling or soul toward the story or cast. I was mostly just interested in getting to the end so that I could start the next book on my reading list.
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LibraryThing member Boobalack
I fully expected to enjoy this book after all the hype. I was very disappointed. It should be named Lust in the Time of Cholera. I guess Florentino did love Fermina in his own way, but if he had truly loved her, he wouldn't have been bedding everything that came down the pike. If seemed to be more of an exercise in self-pity for over fifty years, rather than a lasting love. Also, it was disgusting to read of his having sex, even though with her consent, with a child -- I believe that's called rape. Another sickening item was two (I hesitate to use the word lovers.) lovers taking enemas together. The author must be one sick dude, even if he did win a Pulitzer Prize. Yecch.… (more)
LibraryThing member RidgewayGirl
This is a book. Going in, I knew that it was a modern classic of South American literature and both Worthy and Important, after all, I've had a copy for at least three decades, the bookmark sitting sadly between page 36 and page 37. I was unprepared, however, for the experience of reading it. Reading Love in the Time of Cholera is a brilliant, immersive, frustrating and fabulous experience.

Set a hundred years ago, in a coastal city in Colombia, Gabriel Garcia Marquez tells the story of Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza, from the moment Florentino first catches sight of Fermina and falls madly, desperately in love, until they are both elderly. It's not an easy path; Florentino is awkward and weird and Fermina's father disapproves of the relationship. She marries another, and while his heart remains hers, he spends much of his time juggling a number of lovers as he waits for her to become free.

First published in 1985, Florentino's sexual ethics are presented as laudable and perhaps by the standards of the time and place, they are. But by modern standards, many of his relationships are coercive, if not blatantly abusive. This is the dead insect in the glorious feast of this book. Which is not to negate the importance or the beauty of this excellent book. I'm eager to read Marquez's other novels now.… (more)
LibraryThing member santhony
This novel, written by Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a period piece, set in a Caribbean port city (widely cited as Cartagena) in the late 19th and early 20th century. At its heart, it is the story of a tragic love triangle, involving Spanish maiden Fermina Daza, her first ardent suitor Florentino Ariza and her subsequent husband of over 50 years, Dr. Juvenal Urbino.

The story begins with the twilight years of Fermina and Urbino and his accidental death. Ariza then makes his appearance, professing his undying and faithful love over the previous half century. We are then transported back to the childhood and subsequent courtships of the actors culminating in the marriage between Fermina and Juvenal and the heartbreak suffered by Florentino.

Of primary interest to me were both the cultural and societal backdrop painted by the author. Late 19th century Spanish customs and mores were far different than those of today, with the Catholic Church playing an overarching role. Class and status were rigid and conscientiously adhered to, to the detriment of young Florentino.

While the writing is certainly first rate and the imagery very effective, it is at times a little more florid than I generally prefer. There are long stretches of little or no action as the author expounds on the clothing worn by the actors, the weather, the landscape, the emotions and feelings of all involved. Not usually my cup of tea, but not beyond my capacity to appreciate, philistine that I am. That having been said, I found myself warming to the story, and perhaps becoming more comfortable with the style and substance relayed by the author. By its conclusion, I was very favorably disposed toward the novel.

I did have one minor quibble however, and it revolved around Florentino’s prodigious sexual appetite and conquests. Soon after the heartbreak of Fermina’s marriage to Urbino, it is revealed that in the subsequent fifty years, Florentino conducted an astonishing 622 affairs, well documented in 25 notebooks. While it is not inconceivable that a fellow could sleep with 622 different women in fifty years, it is noted that the 622 “affairs” were not simply one night stands, or visits with whores, but “affairs of the heart”. This seems to be wholly unrealistic. Taking into account the population of the city itself, the strict Catholic mores in place and the simple math, it seems highly unlikely that any man could have accumulated such an impressive record. Maybe I’m simply not trying hard enough.
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LibraryThing member Doje
When I finally got around to being serious about reading this book, I found it tedious and laborious, but worth making it through to the end. The ending was disappointing and unrealistic in my opinion. I felt like the author got
tired writing his story and decided to end it as quickly as he could.… (more)
LibraryThing member Tricoteuse
I know that this is supposed to be an amazing book, and judging by the other reviews a lot of people really love it, but I really did not. I found myself really bogged down in the excesses of the language and I couldn't bring myself to really like either of the main characters (a major flaw in a book that's all about their romance) so that by the end I really didn't care what happened to them, I just wanted the story to end so I could put the book down. Perhaps some day I'll give it another chance and discover something I missed on the first reading, but until then I can't possibly give this more than two stars.… (more)
LibraryThing member midlevelbureaucrat
A magical and ageless tale. It is easy to understand how Gabriel Garcia Marquez owns the Nobel Prize for literature. This book flows seamlessly between the lives of its three characters over more than 50 years. This is a book that should be read by anyone who considers themselves an accomplished reader.
LibraryThing member Laurenbdavis
Love, death, aging, passion, fidelity, grief, sex . . .Marquez the Master weaves it all together in sensual, sensuous prose. From the first sentence -- one of literature's great first sentences -- we are told what the book is about, and how the tale will be told: "It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love." Concrete sense details, inevitability, memory, pain and love.

The sickness of a broken heart and cholera are viewed as comparable illnesses in Marquez's work, and cholera is the perfect disease with with to contrast love. It is a messy disease, and often fatal. No pale heroines gracefully expiring on clean sheets for Marquez. He writes with equal attention of the transcendental power of love, as well as the grit, grime and gore of everyday life.

At the same time as the , the book is as much about the corruption of Latin America as it is the human body. The last chapter, filled with the detail of aging -- "he looked at her and saw her naked to her waist, just as he had imagined her. Her shoulders were wrinkled, her breasts sagged, her ribs were covered by a flabby skin as pale and cold as a frog’s." -- is also thick with metaphoric details of the landscape -- "the alligators ate the last butterfly and the maternal manatees were gone, the parrots, the monkeys, the villages were gone: everything was gone." Youth juxtaposed against age, vitality against decay, love against death. Marquez paints with a wide brush, but manages to capture the tiniest detail.

This is a book in which you can luxuriate.
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LibraryThing member Caitak
The writing in this book was lovely and descriptive but unfortunately that was all that really stood out for it - there was almost no dialogue and the characters felt flat.

Seemed to be more about sex than love and it seemed to get progressively worse with Florentino seducing his 14-year-old ward and a description of 70-year-olds having sex by the end of the book!

There were only about six chapters in the whole book, no page breaks and really long paragraphs - did not add to its readability at all!

A Marmite book - will either love it so much the icky bits can be overlooked or the icky bits will cloud the good. I'm the latter.
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LibraryThing member Crazymamie
I had to let this book settle a bit before I could review it because I was so disappointed with it when I first finished reading it. So what didn't I like about it? Well... I thought that part of what was presented at the beginning of the book as a bit of a mystery to me would be addressed in the final pages, and this did not happen. And the characters that I liked the best were just on the periphery. I also thought that parts of the story dragged more than they needed to - I can appreciate the tedious passage of time without actually having to experience it personally. It's funny because there is a passage in the book where the major players are all at the theater together (well, not together, but they are there at the same time), and the narrative so perfectly captured what I was feeling about parts of this book:

"Florentino Ariza had not been impressed in any way by the invention of moving pictures, but Leona Cassiana took him, unresisting, to the spectacular opening of Cabiria, whose reputation was based on the dialogues written by the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio. The great open-air patio of Don Galileo Daconte, where on some nights one enjoyed the splendor of the stars more than the silent lovemaking on the screen, was filled to overflowing with a select public. Leona Cassiani followed the wandering plot with her heart in her mouth. Florentino Ariza, on the other hand, was nodding his head in sleep because of the overwhelming tedium of the drama. At his back, a woman's voice seemed to read his thoughts: 'My God, this is longer than sorrow!'"

Yes, yes that's just exactly it! Too long. And this is one of those books that requires a lot of effort on the reader's part, at least on this reader's part. Márquez writes beautiful, flowing prose that needs to be extracted from the complicated sentence structure that he delivers it in. Still, this is a worthy task because the language and the meaning are combined in a lush and decadent manner. The words are intended to be savored. I just wish there had been fewer of them - words, that is. The first portion of the novel takes 100 pages to tell a story that could have been captured in 50. Still, the second half of the book delivers a faster pace, less monotony and greater insights. All of the main characters are deeply flawed, and I found that while I could not forgive them certain transgressions, there were qualities that I could admire in each of them. There is humor here, and perception, and truths about life that are delivered in an unflinchingly honest way. So, while I did not love this book, I do not feel that the time I spent with it was wasted.

"The only consolation, even for someone like him who had been a good man in bed, was sexual peace: the slow, merciful extinction of his venereal appetite. At eighty-one years of age he had enough lucidity to realize that he was attached to this world by a few slender threads that could break painlessly with a simple change in position while he slept, and if he did all he could to keep those threads intact, it was because of his terror of not finding God in the darkness of death."

"His uncle was angry with him because of the manner in which he had thrown away the good position of telegraph operator in Villa de Leyva, but he allowed himself to be swayed by his conviction that human beings are not born once and for all on the day that their mothers give birth to them, but that life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves."
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LibraryThing member Neftzger
While the book centers on the romantic love between the two main characters, it also examines the different forms in which love can exist. Beautifully written passages of description support the plot lines, exposing the beautiful and sometimes not so beautiful aspects of the human spirit.
LibraryThing member Ebba
Best read in 2008 so far ! Wonderful story, sad but sweet. It is frightful how love can consume a person for a lifetime. At the same time it speaks of hope and that everything is possible as long as we don't give up. Things might not turn out exactly the way we hope or plan for, but dreams are always worth holding on to.
LibraryThing member myfanwy
This book was all I could have hoped for. Garcia Marquez has a way of writing that is exquisite. The form of his sentences is lyrical while the content is utterly familiar. I don't know quite how to describe it. He has a way of talking about anything, eating, loving, losing one's hair, that does not shy away from the absurdity of the human condition but also does not denigrate it. He writes like an old man, one who is incredibly wise and knows all the hidden reasons why people do what they do. And the structure of his novels plays with time. Stories are revealed in an order which best describes the character rather than in any particularly chronological order and yet it is never so jumbled as to impede the reader.

The story follows the lives of Fermina Daza and the two men who love her, Florentino Ariza and Juvenal Urbino. That sounds like a romance, doesn't it? And yet it is simply a story of the human condition. The thrill of adolescent love burns out quickly, and Fermina turns to a more earthly romance, loving and hating her husband for all the things that make him who he is. Marquez opens up these people until you know them better than yourself. He shows you not just what they are thinking about at the moment, but both the recent and long past experiences which shaped their personality. Each character grows and changes as the city grows and changes, but each remains distinct in their own personality. I don't know of anyone else who can capture such a sweeping time period (60 or so years) with such insight into the human virtues and foibles of his characters. All I can say will not be enough to describe the virtues of this writer.

I enjoyed this book for all of its warmth and depth, but even so I feel I can recommend 100 Years of Solitude more. This may only be because I read that book first and thus Marquez' gifts were more novel to me. But 100 Years does include more magical realism, moments that lie on the cusp between reality and dream. Love in the Time of Cholera is a fine fine book, but also a little more down to earth.
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LibraryThing member AnnB2013
The only Garcia Marquez novel I've ever managed to finish. I actually liked it too. It inspired me retry 100 Years of Solitude, but not to like or finish it.

P.S. I am not now nor ever have been a member of Oprah's book club.
LibraryThing member blondestranger
Beautiful story, interesting characters, inconsistent writing. Parts of this book I loved, other sections were just so obscure that I couldn't wrap my head around what the author was trying to infer. Overall, it was not a terrible read, just not page-turning. I was really glad that I finally finished the book as there were a lot of really great quotes and lines from the book - my favorite being (paraphrased) "Yes, I will marry you, so long as you never make me eat eggplant." Brilliant. I'll probably read One Thousand Years of Solitude as well, just to give Marquez another chance to possibly win me over.… (more)
LibraryThing member the_awesome_opossum
Love in the Time of Cholera reminded me in some ways of The Great Gatsby: a self-made man from a modest background, despite his success, keeps a torch burning for his young love who married for money. Unlike Gatsby, Florentino Ariza's success is not monetary but with many women, and also unlike Gatsby, Gabriel Garcia Marquez apparently doesn't think this level of fixation sustained for "fifty-one years, nine months, and four days" since the end of their relationship is creepy. *Also* unlike Gatsby, things rarely actually happen, it's more long passages of longing and desperation and things left unsaid.

On a technical level, this novel is very, very good. The writing is dense, poetic, and romantic. It is a wonderful evocation of its location, which is both extremely beautiful and extremely desperate, due to poverty and cholera. But nothing was compelling the story or reader forward - or any direction really - and I had a hard time caring about any of the characters.
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LibraryThing member dawnpen
It’s enough to say that the writing is a way of living with someone who does not love you, or takes a long time to, or loves very badly. It’s the listening and being listened to. And it's enormous. Bigger than the things you give up and the things you don’t find, bigger than despair.
LibraryThing member jddunn
My second Marquez, after reading and loving 100 Years of Solitude. Reading a second book by him, the whole Magical Realism, ever-so-slight-warping-of-reality thing starts to feel like a schtick after awhile, but damn, it’s a really excellent and well-executed schtick and it keeps me coming back. This one is a lot more personal and character-based than 100 Years, with several very well-drawn and complex characters, who are more than just avatars for other things. And of course, more of Marquez’s slightly askew world-building genius too.

However, in the end, the ambiguity over whether the protagonist and his obsessive love are admirable or monstrous is what really interested me the most. I love me a novel where you end up unsure whether you even like the protagonist or not after you’ve just spent several hundred pages immersed in their world and worldview. Challenging and interesting stuff, though maybe not for everybody because of that.
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LibraryThing member bcquinnsmom
I read this book eons ago but I don't think I was in the right frame of mind at the time to fully appreciate its beauty. It's difficult to review this book, because there's so much to it, and there is a wealth of information and a plethora of sites pulling it apart as to themes, motifs etc on the internet. So what I won't do is go into the plot.

First off, I think this is a book that everyone should read. Not that everyone will, but it should be high on everyone's tbr list. I know that Oprah's had it featured on her bookclub list, and hopefully her recommendation alone will get more people interested. Personally, I can't see how anyone wouldn't like this book.

Marquez's writing can only be viewed as beautiful. He is in total control of his topic, his characters, his setting and manages to get his point across to the reader with no difficulty at all. Once you start this book (or for that matter, any other novel he's ever written) you are hooked. IMHO, Marquez is one of the finest storytellers that ever put pen to paper. For example: there is one sentence that says only a few words and yet it says everything: The uncle of Florentino Ariza, Don Leo XII Loayza, the head of the River Company of the Caribbean notes at one point that "the trouble" ..."is that without river navigation, there is no love." Picture it -- it captures in one small sentence the story of Florentino Ariza and his river journeys some 50 years apart. The first, when he decided not to run away from Fermina Daza, but to stay in the same place and endure his love for her. The second, well, I won't spoil the ending, but once you've read it you'll understand. There is absolutely no writer like Marquez and there is absolutely no story like this one.

Very highly recommended; one of my personal favorites. I would recommend it to everyone.
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LibraryThing member Katie_H
A modern classic, Marquez's masterpiece is a thorough examination of LOVE. On the surface, it may seem that the story of Florentino and Fermina, one of unrequited love, is the main subject, as this story is interwoven throughout the novel. Florentino and Fermina meet as adolescents and fall in love after exchanging a series of letters. Upon learning of the illicit relationship, Fermina's father takes her away, attempting to force her to forget him. When she sees Florentino some time later, she realizes how ordinary he is, hurtfully shunning him, and quickly moving on with her life. Florentino vows that he will win her eventually, so he remains available throughout his life, allowing himself affairs, but never entering into the bonds of marriage. Late in his life, he learns of the death of Fermina's husband, Juvenal, and he seizes the opportunity, hoping that she will accept him again after so many years. In reality, after peeling back the layers of the narrative, the book is not about this one form of love (unrequited), but of ALL aspects of love: puppy love (early days of Fermina and Florentino), love between a mother and son (Florentino and Leona), marital love (Juvenal and Fermina), forbidden love (Florentino and pre-pubertal America), love from a distance (that Florentino had for Fermina for so many years), jealous love, dangerous love, as well as several examples of elderly, adulterous, and purely sexual love. In essence, this savory novel IS a love story, but not in the predictable style of a typical romance. The reader should not expect a quick and easy read with this one; I felt that the text required quite a bit of concentration, but it was worth the effort in the end. This is extremely well written, and I highly recommend it to both fans and foes of this crazy little thing called LOVE.… (more)


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