Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
When he is a young man, Florentino Ariza spies 13-year-old Fermina Daza and falls completely in love. He sends her an introduction love letter. Young Fermina is enchanted. Although she's too young and her shady father would object, they start an illicit romance through letters. She is helped with her governess, her aunt. But things happen. Fermina grows up and realizes she no longer loves Florentino - it was a childish infatuation. She rejects him.
Then Fermina meets the eminent young Dr. Jubal Urbino. He immediately decides he wants her for his wife. With her father's approval, they marry. They have a good society marriage. By the end of their honeymoon in Europe they begin to love each other. They have a long, rocky marriage.
During her marriage Florentino Ariza never sways in his devotion to Fermina Daza. After her marriage he waits for Dr. Urbino to die so he can once again declare his devotion. He haunts the social events where the couple appear so he can be near her. Florentino has a secret life away from his job. He keeps women happy. His specialty is widows, but he knows the secret night entrances into many women's homes. His heart belongs to Fermina. But his body is shared secretly throughout their tropical city.
Love in the Time of Cholera snuck up on me. This book is one of those modern classics that "everyone" praises. Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a Nobel Price winner for his writing. Love in the Time of Cholera opens with the elderly Dr. Urbino mourning the death of a man he has known for years. The reader doesn't get a glimpse of the story to come until the end of the first chapter when Florentino Ariza is able to confront Fermina Daza after many decades.
I found Love in the Time of Cholera tangled and confusing. The first chapter doesn't appear to fit with the following story until the end. So I started off in a state of confusion. I kept reading through Florentino and Fermina's romance, then their lives. I knew this was a "good book" so I kept plugging at it even though I found it slow reading. Marquez paints a lush, yet almost sepia toned picture of Columbia in the late 1800's and early 1900's. He highlights the differences between the classes yet shows how they work together as well. Finally, about 3/4 of the way through. the book returns to the first chapter.
It was only after I finished the book and put it down that its impact finally hit me. This novel needs to be considered as a whole entity. Building up to the end doesn't work as well. The end may be the conclusion, but it doesn't just wrap things up. It is part of the whole to show the ridiculousness and the seriousness of our lives. Love in the Time of Cholera isn't a feel good book. Yet it is. Gabriel Garcia Marquez challenges to reader to think about Florentino, Fermina, and Jubal's lives.
Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations
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