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Book Review: Love in the Time of Cholera

choleraI’ve been meaning to read Love in the Time of Cholera for a couple of years, ever since I read One Hundred Years of Solitude and declared it my Favorite Book Ever (or at least my favorite book of 2011). It’s my third completed Gabriel Garcia Marquez book of four attempts. I’ll somehow get through Autumn of the Patriarch one day and explain. Or you can try reading it. Believe me, you’ll understand.

So. Here we were with One Hundred Years of Solitude (have I mentioned it’s quite possibly my Favorite Book Ever?) and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, both of which I’ve written about in this blog. The former is better than the latter and the latter reminds me of the former and so on. I’ve talked about it before. Both are good and certainly worth a read. What all that means is that I had high expectations for Love in the Time of Cholera.

I’d put off reading it for a long time for various stupid reasons. First, when I’m trying to hit a goal of 50 books per year (as in 2011, the first part of 2012, and this year, I’ve tl;dr-ed most longer books. (Okay, there are huge examples of that being a lie, like Suttree, The Satanic Verses, and Crime and Punishment, to name only a few. I didn’t say that my tl;dr-ing wasn’t arbitrary). And Love in the Time of Cholera isn’t as long as any of those or as long as One Hundred Years of Solitude. But I digress. Anyway, Marquez isn’t exactly a fast, easy read – but he flows so smoothly.

Love in the Time of Cholera is about long-unrequited love. Florentino Ariza sees Fermina Daza when both of them are young, and he instantly falls in hopeless love. They exchange love letters for years, but she ends up marrying Juvenal Urbino, a more attractive, wealthy doctor from a “better” family. They live their separate lives, Florentino Ariza never giving up hope of winning Fermina Daza, until they meet again after Juvenal Urbino’s death. (I promise I’m not ruining everything – we learn about this at the beginning.) The point of view fluctuates (remaining third-person) from character to character throughout the novel, so we learned about the past and the present in very personal bits.

And now, the more I write about it, the more I like it. Though it’s not my favorite of Marquez’s novels, it’s very well-written. The way the perspectives interweave is amazing, and the language flows oh so smoothly (that is, of course, thanks, in part, to the translator, but hey). It’s not a fast read – no Marquez I’ve encountered is – but it’s a lovely one.

But here’s why I don’t like it as much as One Hundred Years of Solitude – or one of the reasons: I got annoyed with Florentino Ariza, his incessant romanticism of Fermina Daza, and his (sometimes gross) affairs with other women throughout his lifetime. I found him tiresome after a while. And I think I mentioned gross (you’ll know what I mean when you get to that part).

Check it out and read it. Curl up somewhere comfortable, and expect to spend several hours glued to this book. You won’t be sorry you did.

 
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