Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Love in the Time of Cholera

9712In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs--yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

*May Contain Spoilers*

Love in the Time of Cholera is another example of a classic book that I never picked up without good reason. I've always wanted to read it, but there was also always another book that I needed to read first. Finally, with my current grad school class, I read this amazing novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. 

The main characters, Florentino and Fermina, were secret teenage sweethearts in Latin America until Fermina's father found out about the connection and took Fermina away on a trip that would force her to realize that what she needed in adulthood was not love, but stability in all forms. With her hopes dashed and the crushing reality that life does not revolve around love, Fermina marries another - the serious yet quirky Dr. Urbino. More than fifty years later, the day of Dr. Urbino's death, Florentino reappears with the same promises that he loves Fermina and wants to be with her. But, Fermina still isn't sure. She's ruled by the dictations of society and the opinions of others. Through these characters, Marquez shares, with heavy doses of beautiful prose and magical realism, the story of a love that has lasted more than fifty years and now, near the end of life's cycle, has another chance. 

Though I didn't exactly like Fermina, I did understand her reasoning. Her motives and decisions make sense in a society that doesn't let anyone be who they really are. So, although I wanted her to choose love, I didn't blame her for rejecting Florentino. Though, Florentino's dedication to her was incredibly surprising. I still struggle to understand why he never moved on. He had other relationships with women and in reality, Florentino and Fermina didn't have that much time to really get to know each other's personality. So although the relationship is one that is difficult to understand, the feelings between them last nearly a lifetime. And in their old age, they get to be reunited. But then they struggle to accept the judgment that undoubtedly comes from their connection. The novel asks now that they're older, shouldn't they have grown out of falling in love? 

The plot of this novel begins with the death of one of Dr. Urbino's closest friends and the secrets revealed with it. As death becomes a reality for Urbino, it comes calling just hours later. Through flashbacks and memories, Marquez shares the story of the love that blossomed between Florentino and Fermina as young people, the rejection of Florentino by Fermina, the meeting of her and Dr. Urbino, their marriage, including their struggles, and Florentino's life without Fermina in it until they can be reunited through her widowhood. My favorite part about this book was the weight of the magic that hung on each page. Marquez writes of ghosts, feelings, and omens as if they were physical objects that could be touched. Though the novel and the details did become a little heavy at times, this book forces the reader to take it slow or risk missing an important detail. Though the characters were complex and not easy to like, or truly connect with, they were realistic and flawed. With an important focus on character and the amount of detail and subtlety in his writing style, I know for sure that I will definitely be reading more of Marquez's work and recommending him to anyone who hasn't read his books.

Rating: 4/5 Cups

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