I haven’t posted a reader review in a long time. Sadly, this is because very few of the books I’ve read recently made me feel strongly one way or the other. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez did… but the emotions I felt weren’t entirely positive.
To start off, it’s obvious to me that Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a very skilled writer. Yes, occasionally, he goes off on a tangent for a few pages, but the way he strings his thoughts together is very seductive. When I finished the first of the five long chapters, I would have easily given the novel an 8.75. In that chapter, he showed us a beautiful marriage that, while not always perfect, spoke volumes about the nature of human relationships. After that, it was all downhill. The writing remained stellar; the minor issue of content was the problem.
The moral of the story, as I’ve gathered, is that everyone is secretly cheating on their lovers – but that doesn’t matter, because it’s okay to love and/or sleep with more than one person. The characters were immoral, made snap decisions, were disloyal, constantly lied, and weren’t in the least bit likable. Fermina Daza, the female love interest, was shallow, cruel and, while normally very level headed, was prone to changing her mind about every aspect in her life all at once. Florentino Ariza, the male love interest, was simply a child from beginning to end. He never took the feelings of others into account (with the exception of Fermina Daza). The only character I remotely liked was Dr. Juvenal Urbino, who I’m fairly certain was the one character who wasn’t supposed to be likable. Of course, this is all subjective. Just because I found the story to be a little offensive, doesn’t mean that it won’t sit right with other readers. I did, however, have less subjective complaints that I’d like to address.
Many things in the novel were simply never tied in. When I finished the book, I found myself wondering why we needed thirty pages describing Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, when he never appears again throughout the entire book, about what the smell of almonds has to do with love and about why, if Florentino admits to himself that he has been in love with other women, he believes Fermina Daza to be so special (especially since he knows virtually nothing about her life during their time apart)… little things like that. Yes, maybe it’s too much to ask for one single reason why the smell of almonds makes Dr. Juvenal Urbino think of love – but it is not too much to ask that our characters have reasonable motivations for their actions.
On the back of the edition that I purchased read the words: “A love story of astonishing power!” Well, I’m a fan of love stories. Joeseph Bedier’s Tristan and Iseult is one of my favorite books of all time… Love in the Time of Cholera, however, is easily the least romantic love story I’ve ever read.