Review: Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

A quick Valentine’s Day book recommendation for you if you’re in the mood for it: Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.

In an unnamed Caribbean seaport, young Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall in love and embark on a secret affair. Fermina’s father isn’t keen on Florentino (he definitely thinks that he’s beneath his daughter) , so in an effort to make things turn out differently, ups sticks to another city with his daughter.

Away from Florentino, their relationship starts to falter, and Fermina is wooed by some kind of national hero, Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Urbino is everything Florentino Ariza isn’t  – he’s wealthy, rational and ultra modern, compared to the poetic, romantic soul of Florentino (who might be a bit obsessive too). Fermina and Juvenal are married and for the next 50 years experience all the highs and lows of marriage, until one day, when he’s busy chasing a parrot up a mango tree, Dr. Urbino falls and dies.

So, with Dr. Urbino’s death, and after 50 years, Florentino is back in the game, and gets right back to wooing his old flame.

This book isn’t about love though. Big chunks of it are about love (in almost all of it’s forms), but an awful lot of it is about good old fashioned lust too, maybe even obsessiveness.

The trick of Marquez’s writing here is that, although he might be writing about love, he’s not writing a romance novel. Nope, in parts this is closer to a comedy or a soap opera (possibly the reason that this book sings rather than descending into is some awful dirge).

Throughout it all, Marquez uses his trademark style, magical realism. A style that makes the mundane everyday stuff seem brilliant, so you get stuff like:

“He could not understand why no one was as disturbed as he by the clicking of her heels on the paving stones, why no one else’s heart was wild with the breeze stirred by the sighs of her veils, why everyone did not go mad with the movements of her braid, the flight of her hands, the gold of her laughter.

He had not missed a single one of her gestures, not one of the indications of her character, but he did not dare approach her for fear of destroying the spell.”

It’s beautiful. If you’re looking for a romance different from the usual romcom fare, then this is for you.

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