Friday, April 30, 2010

Book 26- Love in the Time of Cholera

Love in the Time of Cholera by Nobel Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez was a long and tedious read. Very tedious- with tiny print, extremely detailed details, and Spanish words thrown in with no translations. This was a long story. But I made it to the end. I wanted to like this book because of the rave reviews but I wasn't a fan.

I'd like to be able to say that basic premise was... and fill in the blank but it's not that simple. We have Fermina Daza who discovers forbidden first love with Florentino Ariza but she comes to the sudden realization that they are young and innocent and silly, naive, in their love, and she rejects him. Then she later marries Dr. Juvenal Urbino, when she is merely 21 years old. She was raised by a stern father, of questionable back ground, and a spinster aunt- until her father is angry at the aunt and banishes her, leaving Fermina Daza to basically fend for herself. She marries Urbino because he will take care of her; he is symbolic of security and is very practical.

His role in the novel is to provide a counterpart to the hopelessly romantic Florentino. We also learn that Urbino, a medical doctor who wants to eradicate cholera, wasn't the best husband; about halfway into the novel he confesses an affair to his wife and she leaves him to go home with her cousins and it makes him miserable; however, the event that is the catalyst of the story is another affair Fermina Daza discovers upon the death of her husband.

Florentino is tragically scarred when he is rejected by Fermina Daza, when they are mere teenagers. He decides she is his true love and he will never marry unless he can marry "her." While he never lets himself marry, he does have approximately 622 affairs. Some of them are simply pleasures of the body that he learns to appreciate and becomes an expert at. Some women he falls in love with, and others are just romantic and/or sexual trysts, mere liaisons. He lives his entire life waiting for Fermina Daza. Though they spend most of their relationship within the book through correspondence, it seems to be a blooming love after Urbino dies. Florentino and Fermina don't even have face to face conversations until the end of the novel, about the last 20-30 pages of the book.

The novel is set somewhere in the Caribbean, in a poor port town, around 1880s through the 1930s (maybe 1940s).

This is basically a story about unrequited love. A man loves a woman and she marries someone else until she learns she could love someone.

Fermina is a very unlikable character. I didn't enjoy her story and I didn't really enjoy her character. I do have to say, once I got through the tedious reading of the early courtship of batted eye lashes and throbbing heartbeats, I liked how the story played out, but I never LIKED Fermina.

The huge amount of details made this a long and rough read. For example, I feel like we had page after page after page about how Fermina got up in the morning and the routine she had with Urbino. I didn't need to know all that. Say it once, one way, and be done with it. This happened many, many times throughout different scenes in the book.

So while I didn't really enjoy this book, I am glad I read it. I did get involved in the stories of the characters and it was great to see it to the end. I also have to say this took me three weeks to read. This book me took longer to read than any book in my life. And it was only 348 pages.