30 of 33 people found the following review helpful
Obsession in a sultry climate,
This review is from: Love in the Time of Cholera (Paperback)
"Fermina, I have waited for this opportunity for more than half a century, to repeat to you once again my vow of eternal fidelity and everlasting love." Thus does Florentino Ariza lay bare his heart to Fermina Daza after - by the former's exact count - 51 years, 9 months, and 4 days of yearning.
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA tells of lifelong relationships and a lifelong obsession. Though the book doesn't indicate a time and locale for the storyline, it apparently takes place in a Colombian coastal town between, say, 1890 and 1950. During that period, Ariza's two opportunities to win the love of Fermina are separated by the latter's 50-year marriage to Dr. Juvenal Urbino.
I must say up front that I think this novel will be better appreciated by female readers. However, I'm giving it 5 stars, not because my testosterone level is necessarily low, but because I myself enjoy stringing words together, and author Gabriel García Márquez is a master par excellence of that talent. I especially liked his technique of stating a relatively simple fact, and then telling in glorious detail how it got that way. For instance, within the first few pages he relates that Urbino's talking parrot escaped to the backyard mango tree, then dedicates 5 full pages of text to the background of the calamity. And, after Daza makes the statement that heads this review, the next 225 pages to the paths the three principal characters travel to arrive at that point. Throughout the narrative, Gabriel's prose is lush, flowery, and richly detailed, and credit must be given to the translator, Edith Grossman.
The vast majority of the text is devoted to the Urbinal-Daza marriage, which, I suspect, follows the same evolutionary course as many others in real life, and a number of other, more transient or transitional love relationships. Regarding the bonds that tie a man and woman together, I venture that Márquez is a wise observer, as indicated by the following excerpts:
"After their first encounters they had both lost awareness of their ages, and they treated each other with the familiarity of a husband and wife who had hidden so many things in this life that there was almost nothing left for them to say to each other."
And an observation by Daza: "It is incredible how one can be happy for so many years in the midst of so many squabbles, so many problems ... and not really know if it was love or not."
LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA is the splendid creation of one of the twentieth century's most gifted writers.