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Customer Review

59 of 67 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely no connection at all..., 25 Jun. 2008
This review is from: Love in the Time of Cholera (Paperback)
Almost as mystifying as this book itself, is the love many people express for it. Marquez has a glittering reputation and a Nobel Prize on his mantelpiece but, on the basis of this, it is hard to see why. As ever with Marquez, there is a slow pace, characters with similar names, unmentioned time slips, a dash of misogyny, and unrequited lust. Quite why this somehow translates into a masterpiece is beyond me.

The story itself, far from being a tribute to passion, is nonsensical. A young man espies an attractive girl, and becomes besotted with her in a childish, immature way. After initially encouraging him, she spurns him. Contrary to my expectations of the book, it is not a story of unrequited but still-burning passion. He goes around screwing every woman in town (including a 14-year-old), periodically expressing crocodile tears of self-pity. She marries for money and prestige, but doesn't really regret it. Eventually...well, I won't spoil it, but things change at the end of their lives.

Both characters are miserable, self-indulgent, selfish, dull and unable to generate sympathy or empathy from the reader. They have no passion except to fulfil childish whims, conceits and tantrums. This is not love, unrequited or otherwise. This is self-obsessed angst.

The only area where the book succeeds is its' descriptions of the minutiae of a long-lasting marriage - the little accommodations, adjustments and unspoken admirations that keep a relationship on an even keel.

There are characters introduced as if they are important, and never mentioned again. There are whole periods where nothing of consequence happens; these are not compensated by descriptive passages of insight, beauty or exposition - they are just meandering prose. Perhaps it is all lost in translation from the Spanish. Or perhaps it was poor to begin with.

Above all, I resent the implication by many reviewers, that anyone who doesn't like this book is some kind of Dan Brown/John Grisham-loving moron, who is incapable of reading a book where something doesn't blow up every five minutes. For people who love this book, congratulations - but don't belittle those who don't with some kind of pathetic intellectual snobbery. Great writing is writing that connects. This doesn't connect with a vast number of readers, and appears to be written as if the author didn't even try.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 17 Nov 2008 13:05:07 GMT
WhiteCrow says:
I will not vote a "helpful" vote, because I've just read the book, and so in that respect none of the reviews are helpful.
Having said that, I fully agree with this review.

Posted on 3 May 2009 12:37:00 BDT
A N Other says:
I fully agree with this review, also. It's an unjustifiably overrated, thoroughly bland affair. I thought it was particularly vile and tasteless of Marquez to centre his novel around the 'problems' of such unpleasant, bourgeois characters, against such an horrific historical background that barely gets mentioned.

Posted on 12 Aug 2010 00:27:12 BDT
amazon13313 says:
I was so glad to find someone else formed the same opinion as me. I have been mystified by the praise heaped on this book.

A largely unfulfilled love affair between two people, neither of whom is very nice. I suppose this theme is not without precedent, but this is no Wuthering Heights, where the protagonists seem to possess an innate and raw nobility that transcends their failure as human beings. Florentino Ariza comes across as no brooding Heathcliff; just a rather squalid and unpleasant individual, who fails to get over a youthful crush on a woman he barely knew.

I suppose Fermina Daza, with her haughtiness and pride, might approximate to a Latin American Cathy, but again, there is something missing; she fails to engage our sympathies.

Unattractive central characters don't always make for the failure of a novel (I was gripped by "Perfume: The Story of a Murderer"). But make the characters repellant AND give them a torpid plot, spun out over decades, and it really does make for tedious reading.

Posted on 19 Jul 2011 23:38:00 BDT
Nim says:
Thankfully someone else agrees. I had been looking forward to read this book for a long time, but it disappointed me, and did not live up to its expectations. The passionate love between the two youthful characters at the beginning is somewhat exciting, as is all forbidden love, but after Fermina's rejection, the book becomes slow-paced and detailed. Florentiza's constancy and his attempts to requit his love are pathetic and childish, and the reunion of the lovers at the end of the book did not touch my heartstrings, for it is evident that his love is not being reciprocated; it is merely Fermina who is bored and bitter after having learnt of her husband's affair.
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