Review on: Love in the time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez
Let me just say, I did not expect for the book to turn out the way it did. In fact, I thought this book was some kind of autobiography before I picked it up in an airport bookstore en route to the province. I’ve heard about this book before, and a lot of people said it was good. Well, with a catchy title like this, I cannot imagine otherwise.
So this book is a love story, and as you are reading the book, you are living it.
Imagine you’re a boy who has fallen in love with the perfect girl. To make it even more dramatic, your love is some kind of forbidden secret, and the girl you love is someone who lives in a world completely different from yours. Everything seems to be going smoothly (despite the secrecy) and later on you become engaged (though only the two of you know). You’ve made all the preparations for the house she’ll one day live in, the lives you’ll someday live, and everything else for the perfection that seems to love you back. And suddenly, one day, she tells you that she doesn’t love you anymore and asks you to forget everything the two of you have ever done. What makes the pain even worse is that she later on marries someone prestigious and popular, the man who is completely opposite you in family background and character.
Next, imagine you are a girl lost in your own little world, until the day someone tells you they like you. The whole story seems like a dream and you find yourself attracted to this boy. The secrecy, the hidden place you keep your letters and imagining your seemingly perfect love story unfolding like a book. It is like one big game, especially when you find yourself secretly engaged to him. After that, everything else you see and feel seems like a dream, and you prepare yourself for the married life. Then one fateful day, you discover that your husband-to-be is not just different from the guy you remembered him to be, he’s someone you can’t bear to spend the rest of your life with. Later, you find yourself somewhat attracted to this famous guy and find yourself marrying him.
Fast forward to around 51 years later when fate appears after the girl’s husband’s death and they are forced to again confront their feelings from before. Florentino the boy, has filled his somewhat empty life with trysts, yet continue to longs for his perfect woman. Fermina the girl, has had a somewhat fulfilling married life though she has always carried with her the feeling of guilt towards the boy she had rejected. Watch as the love story from their teen years catches up with them and we wait to see if Florentino’s half a century of devotion proves fruitful, while we watch Fermina confront her past and face the future.
I didn’t imagine this book would be so entertaining. The book itself is an entire lifetime of the stories of the 2 main characters – Florentino and Fermina. My fascination with the content of the story goes up-and-down as the initial part of the story is sort of interesting, gets a little boring after a while, and then goes up again. There were times like I felt like giving up on the book because parts were dull, but then you make the effort to just read a few more pages and it gets interesting again.
The book starts with both characters in their old age (at around 60-something), then goes back to telling their story of love in their youth, and then comes back to them in their old age as they try to figure out what to do with life. One thing I loved in the book is how the story makes you feel as if you’re kind of growing up alongside the characters. You see the mistakes of their youth, and the wisdom of old age. There are so many points in the story that people can relate to, or if not, can teach them about life. The story focuses so much on Florentino’s love for Fermina, which often times borders on the point of obsession. Though it’s somewhat romantic how he devotes himself to Fermina, his obsession drives him to lose focus on the things he could have done in his life. And the other, Fermina, whose love matures from her youthful dreams of Florentino, to reality, and later on to the wisdom of her post-married life. One thing I didn’t like, as I mentioned earlier is how interesting the book is towards me as a reader. The best part of the book is probably the middle part where Fermina and Florentino talk about their youth, and the beginning part of the book which introduces the characters and the story. The latter part of the book is a bit dull and often times, I just wanted the whole thing to end.
Truth be told, I didn’t like how the ending occurred. It’s like watching some Filipino telenovela unfold before your eyes. Can’t fault the author though because culture-wise, the Philippines and South America if very much alike.
Personally, I’d rate this book a 3, maybe I’m biased because I didn’t like how the story turned out. But the book was otherwise a fascinating read. Though dull and boring at certain parts, the storytelling of the author was so well done that you didn’t feel as if it was too complicated moving from the present to the past and back to the present (within the book). Also, the story was quite educational as it often offered points from various characters that gave a more in-depth understanding of the environment and the main characters. Plus love, the center of the story, is shown in three phases, innocence, wisdom and obsession. I guess you need a level of maturity to understand the book, but understanding the characters and how each of them focuses on one of those phases of love is such an interesting process as you are reading.
Definitely an interesting read that portrays a different sort of love story.