Book Review: Love in The Time of Cholera

 

I finished this novel a few weeks ago. It is now one of a handful of books that has pulled an emotional response out of me so strong as to elicit tears. This is not because of the realism in the book. Marquez uses a some magical realism in this story. I would say the story is not particularly realistic. The characters are lifelike but interact in a strange way occasionally. I was captivated by the deep detail with which the author paints the stories of so many deep emotional connections between the characters. 

I'd say 9/10, you should read this novel with context on the setting and author's background

Spoilers below

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The beginning of the story is simple. Juvenal and Fermina are an old married couple. He is a well respected doctor in town. They have a nice life together and their relationship has a number of humorous notes here and there. Suddenly, Juvenal dies and an old man appears at the door to try and win Fermina's love (a shaken new widow). Things get complicated fast and the setting of the story jumps back decades to the past.

Fermina and Florentino are two young adults in town. Fermina is the daughter of a businessman and Florentino is working at a telegraph station. I don't particularly like Florentino or Fermina, the two main characters of this novel. They are stubborn people. They have a whole cadre of issues linked to mental health that stems from traumatic situations they encountered in their respective youth. I pity these two characters. I don't find myself rooting for them in any particular way. However, the depth of their emotion and the extent to which they are able to share their mind with others is something that I occasionally envied while reading. In the beginning, the fledgling romance between Florentino and Fermina is cute and simple. Both are interested and take fairly parochial stances in the way the relationship would progress. But alas, after the turning point of Fermina's father interjecting in their courtship we learn more about how younger Fermina thinks about an ideal romantic partner. The story gets more complicated

As these two individuals move through life, they don't resolve many of the problems they forged in their teenage and young adult years. After Juvenal's death, things get messy. The emotions once bottled up for so many years are now made center stage. It can be easy at this point to feel bad for Florentino or Fermina; however, I still couldn't muster that feeling. Yet, I still want to urge them forward to seek out something they can both agree on. They both love life to some extent and both fear death to some extent. In the end, they find some ability to forgive both themselves and each other. They feel strange about embracing feelings they have held hidden for so many years and appear resolved to live out the short remainder of their lives in a bliss state laden with a deep sadness. A sadness that they have wasted so much of their lives to unnecessary and unhappy relationships. Yet profoundly happy that they were able to make something right in the end.


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