Adventures in Reading

Gabriel García Márquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera
“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

My (re)reading of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel Love in the Time of Cholera coincides with Oprah selecting the piece for her book club. If you are unfamiliar with Oprah you have yet to be touched by the hand of god, or so it seems. Her book club started in 1996, and Oprah certainly has the Midas touch as every book she selects flies off the shelf and leaves her fans salivating for the next book shipment. It also does not hurt that a film adaptation is coming out November 16th of this year. I personally selected the book as Oprah’s fan base reminded me it was a novel I failed to finish but had always intended on returning to. However, I must express my growing annoyance with the quickly tiring reference to what a wretched book it must be based on the title. (Personally I am quite taken with the title!)

The book is a rather tender romance that begins in the naivety of youth between Fermina and Florentino, but much to Fermina’s father’s chagrin. The two are separated, Fermina realizes that the relationship was folly, and Florentino spends the next 50 or so years waiting for Fermina’s husband to die. The novel is unveiled in three stages of love beginning with youth and ending with old age, and part of the wonder of the story is the “coming and going” (348). It is an intriguing story and beautifully written – Márquez is a poet with words and description.

One issue that I took with the book was that I was not always satisifed with Márquez’s representation of women. I often felt I was reading something by someone who assumed they knew a lot about women, but who’s knowledge ceases after the most recent edition of Cosmo. Now, Fermina did not bother me in particular, but the majority of Florentino’s lovers really are nothing more than pin-ups: glossy but with no warmth and little reality, but here and there painted with a rather misogynistic brush.

I was rather disturbed by Leona Cassian’s rape, which is described as “instantaneous and frenetic love” (258) and when she later in the same passage refers to it as rape it is as if it is almost in jest. Shortly after this we are informed of Florentino’s experience with incest and statutory rape with Americaná. In addition, Love in the Time of Cholera is yet another novel that places a (brief) spotlight on the idea of no means yes: “He beleived that when a woman says no, she is waiting to be urged before making her final decision…“(188).

Despite these issues I still enjoyed the book, but I must confess that through much of the book I kept wishing I was reading Albert Camus’ The Plague instead. It was a book I am glad I read, I feel it has lived up to the “hype,” but I wonder if I should just stick with Marquez’s short stories (which I adore). The movie, as I mentioned, is coming out in about two weeks and I am very excited to see the adaptation.

I would like to thank the wonder of Flickr and the talent of thepluginguy for today’s image.

Other opinions: Book in Hand, Educating Petunia, Book Haven, In Spring It Is the Dawn, Things Mean A Lot



I can relate to your frustration with “Love in the Time of Cholera.” I too attempted to read the book upon reading all those positive Amazon reviews, but there was something about Garcia Marquez’s style that wore me down during the first hundred pages.

This is the 3rd Gabriel Garcia Marquez book that I’ve abandoned (“One Hundred Years of Solitude and “Memories of My Melancholy Whores” being the other two). I guess “magical realism” just isn’t my thing. If you can picture me reading these books: cover opened, one skeptical eyebrow raised…and I’m not even a cynical person! Every action, every piece of dialogue is heightened, exaggerated, random. I don’t know how to illustrate this, but if you remember a scene from “Amelie” when the narrator described how she likes to stick her hands in a the bin of beans…quirky for the sake of being quirky. Sure, it’s cute and innovative imagery, but I don’t think I can take a novel worth of it; I suppose that’s what you meant by wanting to read Camus’ “The Plague” to cleanse your palate of all that “cute.”

Comment by T Y

Very well said! Have you tried Marquez’s short stories, particularly “A Very Old Man With Enormous Wings”? I think I may stick with them in the future, because it does offer a short and brief glimpse – a bean dipping I suppose one could say – into Marquez’s works, but does not drag it out the way his novels seem to.

Comment by bookchronicle

[…] first love as well as how love can effect someone. In some ways, I found this novel very similar to Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Marquez, but admit that I am quite partial to Allende’s retelling of such […]

Pingback by Daughter of Fortune by Isabel Allende « Adventures in Reading

[…] to give it a second chance. Strait is the Gate (a biblical quote I believe) is another novel, like Love in the Time of Cholera or Daughter of Fortune, that explores a theme of immature or naive love. It has the sticky and […]

Pingback by Revisted: Strait is the Gate by André Gide « Adventures in Reading

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