Love in the Time of Cholera

Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Pages: 348
Publisher: Vintage Books, a division of Random House (1988)
Original Language: Spanish (1985), translated by Edith Grossman
Rating: 4.5 stars

She was embarrassed when she greeted him, and he was more embarrassed by her embarrassment. The knowledge that they were behaving as if they were sweethearts was even more embarrassing, and the knowledge that they were both embarrassed embarrassed them so much so that…

Nothing like a little teaser to start the post! So as you can infer by the title this is a love story, a boy meets girl, boy likes girl, boy sends love letters to girl, girl marries someone else, boy has his heart broken, boy doesn’t give up, boy gets girl in the end. Telling you the ending doesn’t ruin it. Promise. You pretty much know from the get-go that they will end up together–it’s just a matter of how long it will take for girl to come to her senses!

Fermina Daza is the girl’s name, and she is the central figure around which the plot and the other two main characters move. Meet her lovers: Florentino Ariza and Juvenal Urbino. Florentino is her first love, the boy who woos her as a young girl and wins her heart for a short time. Dr. Urbino is the man who becomes her husband at the age of 21 and moves her up socially and financially in the world.

Though her marriage to Dr. Urbino is successful, stable, and fairly happy, she is unsure if they were ever in love. At the age of 72, she finds herself facing old age alone and desperately in need of a companion that will ease the depression caused by loneliness. However, she would never admit that she needed a companion; she is far too proud, short-tempered, and headstrong.

Florentino has 622 lovers in the half a century that he waits for Fermina to be available. And he loves some of those women; however, none so truly or long-lasting as Fermina. Thus, he resumes his love letters and persuades her into their old familiarity, with plenty of resistance on her part.

On the surface, this is a tale of the enduring power of love and hope. Sounds sappy, I know. But, in true Latin romance, this book is incredibly thoughtful, tragic, and happy all at once. The characters are all unique and powerfully written so that you feel like you are them at times, which can be disturbing because (like in The Kid) their exploits are sometimes depraved.

Underneath the surface there are a lot of strange things happening. For example, Florentino sleeps with a married women whose husband finds out and murders her. He also sleeps with a girl 50 years his junior and then dumps her for Fermina; she then commits suicide. Fermina hates various things with a dizzying passion. The characters are by no means pure or idealized by the narrator, but their flaws make them more real and you can’t help but sympathize with them both. Marquez shows love in a beautiful light, but its shadow is dark and dangerous.

A little trivia:

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a Columbian author, whose parents’ turbulent, tragicomic love affair inspired him to write Love in the Time of Cholera
  • Marquez won The Nobel Prize for One Hundred Years of Solitude(so that’s kind of a big deal)
  • Love in the Time of Cholera was made into a film in 2007

About Natalie Ramm

I read a lot, y'all.
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2 Responses to Love in the Time of Cholera

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