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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
tired writing his story and decided to end it as quickly as he could.
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.
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.
"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."
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.
P.S. I am not now nor ever have been a member of Oprah's book club.
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.
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.
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.