In this beautiful love story about two people over seventy Marquez explores a kind of love that may seem indecent in the eyes of some, but is in fact portrayed as the most beautiful and pure kind, "when they can expect nothing more from life". This book does not described a cliché about two young people falling in love and marrying despite the opposition of some antagonist or other, but is in fact a story after the story. The most important thing is not the winning of the maiden's heart but what happens after the maiden's heart has been won.
The author shows love as has rarely been portrayed in books before: the inevitable flaws in a marriage, the lurking infidelity, the squabbles over futilities, the pain of rejection and unrequited love, the perseverance of the heart. No perfection here, but human love with all its flaws, fears and misgivings.
Described in such detail as to bring characters to life, with passages that are hilarious as well as heartbreaking, this book is such a compelling read that you hardly notice the scarceness of dialogue and chapters. Marquez's style is very readable and comprehensive, full of rich descriptions through which you can not only see and hear what is happening in the story, but also feel, smell and taste it.
After you finish reading you may feel as if the heartwarming ending is nothing but the beginning, filling you with hope and wisdom, and may even look at love through different eyes.
However romantic this may seem, there is one catch that adds further depth to Marquez's work: the protagonist, the lovesick Florentino Ariza for whom the author creates a role of love victim, may be just the opposite. His duplicitous character is a source of constant discomfort to the reader. On of one hand we may appraise him for his perseverance and pity him for his need to be loved, on the other you are confronted with his perverse behavior: taking on an incredible amount of lovers whom he often lies to, including his 60 year younger relative placed under his guardianship by her family. Is he to be pitied, is he to sympathized with or is he to be loathed?
A note on Everyman's Classic edition: This edition contains an enthusiastic introduction by Nicholas Shakespeare, and although it's interesting to read, I recommend that you read this after you have finished the novel. The introduction gives away a large part of the story, and some of his comments are better understood once you have read the book.