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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
This is a book that could only be enjoyed and fully understood by a hopeless romantic, of which, I am not one. I don't possess a romantic bone in my body and perhaps that is why I did not enjoy one word of this book.
At first I assumed I was struggling with the writing because it had been translated from the original Spanish but now I just don't think I liked the style or excessive length of the story. He could have cut it back a lot and made it somewhat enjoyable even to me! I only finished it as it had been mentioned by a Colombian friend of mine that very rarely suggests books, so I persevered just so I could talk about it with her.
Clearly, not a book I am going to be recommending to anyone to read but I will be taking my copy to bookgroup just in case anyone is still intrigued after reading this review. 1 out of 5 stars from me.
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.
There were enjoyable parts, though, and some delightful, sprightly writing.
"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."
P.S. I am not now nor ever have been a member of Oprah's book club.
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.
But as for convincing and plausible...well, that's a different story. Why Florentino Daza won the hearts and bodies of so many women -- well, I had to shake my head about that. He didn't seem all that special in physical terms, and he also wasn't particularly silver-tongued or smooth. In addition, Florentino's deliberate pursuit of the underaged girl placed in his charge was positively slimy. How does one reconcile this kind of behavior with his infatuation with Fermina, and why would such such a promiscuous knave could still carry a torch for her after all those years? For me, the pieces simply didn't add up. In addition, Florentino didn't deserve to enjoy a happy ending; truth be told, he was a well-mannered scum bag. What did I miss?
Some parts of this book were a little drawn out and hard to get through, which is why I haven't given it full ratings. Overall, however, this was a wonderfully moving story of the constance of the human heart. This is not a romance novel but it is romantic - not with the impetuous passion of youth, but the comfortable, familiar love of old age. I highly recommend it.
What I disliked about the book is that the plot goes to the future, then the past, then the present, and then back to the future. Plus, some plot points are told two and three times from different people's points of view and in different times in history. Finally, I just didn't care anymore.
The wandering plot is basically that about a skinny boy that falls in love with a pretty girl. Pretty girl decides she can do better and dumps him for a rich doctor. The doctor and the pretty lady have a really nice life. They were fairly happy. The skinny boy spends his life humping any woman that jumps on top of him and day-dreaming about this girl that didn't want him. When the doctor husband dies in his 80's, the wife meets her childhood sweetheart again. He pursues her, claiming that he still adores her.
Beautiful wording, well-developed characters but just not the book for me. The book was to sad for me, to convoluted. Many will enjoy this, I am not one of the many.
This is a beautiful story about a love that has to wait over fifty years for fruition. It is set during the last years of the Nineteenth Century and the first quarter of the Twentieth. Florentino Arizo falls in love with the lovely young Fermina Daza and they agree to marry. Fermina's father does not agree and whisks her away for a period of years. When she returns she decides she has made a mistake and ultimately weds someone else. She has a long and relatively contented marriage to an aristocratic doctor who lifts her from her lowly station. The book opens with the end of that marriage and begins a backward journey describing the tenacity of Florentino. During the course of five decades, with little desire and with possibly less effort, Florentino rises to become the director of a shipping company. After the funeral for her husband, he finally has a chance to reinstitute his suit for her affections.
What comes next is one of the most perfect examinations of what love is that I have ever read. This is a wonderful book and I think I will skip the movie in case it would not meet my expectations. If you have not yet done so, you should read this book.
Fifty-one years ago, Fermina Daza felt madly in love with Florentino Ariza. The affair was made possible only through her aunt's complicity. But under her father's tight regime and thus his intransigence of her love affair, Fermina eventually broke all ties with Florentino and married Dr. Juvenal Urbino, a wealthy, eminent doctor who merited in fighting cholera along the Caribbean coast by implementing stringent measures. What followed Fermina's denial of his love was an austerely beautiful story of unrequited love that had still not ended half a century later. They were two people, ambushed by death, who no longer had anything in common except the distant memory of an ephemeral past that was no longer theirs but belonged to two young people who had vanished with no vestige.
Heartrending but not forlorn, it was during this long period of time (almost all his life) that Florentino changed his entire being. He whiled the years away by engaging in 622 affairs and maintained some link with his lovers but reserved his heart for the irreplaceable Fermina. The idea of substituting one love for another carried him along surprising paths that permitted him to find solace in other hearts for his pain.
Florentino, whose only point of reference in his own life was the love affair with Fermina, made a fierce decision to win fame and fortune in order to deserve Fermina. In his demented passion, he did not even consider the obstacle of her being married to the doctor but regarded it an ineluctable event that he resolved to wait without impatience or petulance, even till the end of time. When meeting the doctor, he could not bear the pangs of grief at the thought that the admirable man would have to die in order for him to be happy. Florentino understood both he and the doctor were poignantly subjected to the ineluctable fate of loving the same woman.
As the bell tolling resonated citywide for Doctor Juvenal Urbino, who died of a broken spine when he fell from the branch of a mango tree catching a parrot, death had interceded on his behalf after half a century of longing and imbued him the courage to repeat his vow of everlasting love to Fermina. So he planned to attend the funeral...
Love in the Time of Cholera is a tapestry of the complicated human emotions: love, repression, nostalgia, sex, concupiscence, and pride. It is a tale of morbidly repressed love, of passion, of obsession, and of indomitable longing and fulfillment. Garcia Marquez, with an incredulously detached voice and matter-of-fact manner, slowly unfolds the story with succulent details and lyrical exuberance. Piercing fluidity and precision of words accentuate the beauty of prose. Peripheral characters are no less etched and are vividly limned to the essence of their thoughts and emotions. The book is riddled with an air of melancholy and repression that is held redeemable by an undying hope.
My main criticism is a morally rooted one. I don't mind problematic characters as long as I feel like the text is aware of their issues and actively exploring them (see: Lolita) but I do not know how I am expected to root for a grand sweeping love story for a man who treats a child in his care so abusively. I feel like this is completely secondary plot point and not something we are encouraged to consider by text, but as soon as it was introduced it was all I could think about. I felt the novel normalized his actions, and that made me far too uncomfortable to enjoy anything.
Besides this issue, I thought it was a somewhat underwhelming story and quite definitely "chick lit" which isn't really my style. I like when the social structure peeps in on the love story, but the times when we are just getting the mush I mentally checked out.
Although I was disappointed with this novel, the writing was beautiful (and beautifully translated) and I would look forward to reading other Garcia Marquez books that might have content I preferred.
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.