3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 12, 2004
A simple story full of well-presented details, with sound, smell, colours and texture. Even you don`t believe in love, it worth the time and effort to go through it.
I can`t help but comparing Tomas of Unbearable lightness of being with Florentino. Tomas escape love in order to stay with lightness but at the end of his life he can`t get rid of Tereza; Florentino refrain himself from loving other for he believes his love is only for Fermina. They have slept with hundreds of women, good or bad, just for short-lived love and sex, and believe that fidelity is nothing to do with causal sex. I think it is a fantasy of man: The fate/destiny of a man is to have a woman who is his crowned goddness for spiritual love, and hundreds of sex mates for fullfiling of physical needs.
I just can`t accept Florentino, at his 76, fall in 'love' with a little girl only 14 years old and is under his guidance.
There are so many types of love in this book that sometimes you have to stop a while and ask yourself: Is it love? What is love?
I enjoy the book very much though in the middle of it the come and go of Florentino`s lovers are a bit bore and excessive. As a woman, sometimes I can`t quite follow Fermina`s thought because most of the women will not react like her did. She is a crowned goddess created by the author.
on March 24, 2004
Throw out all your preconditioned notions about love. Disregard Hollywood's fictional depiction of love being all fun and no work. Ignore the assumption that there is someone out there for you who is your perfect mate and you cannot rest until you find him or her. Put aside all your ideas about love being the most pure, romantic and definite feeling. Forget about happily ever after. Welcome to reality; welcome to Love in the Time of Cholera.
This novel takes place at the turn of the twentieth century in a small town in Colombia. It is about a quest for love for two people never meant to experience it. One tries to find it anywhere in her life, whether it be with her family or her husband. And the other making it his lifelong mission to entertain the hope that he will be with his first love before he dies. The setting and time that this novel takes place creates an excellent background for a love story. In this small town where the walls do talk, and nothing you do is in secret, a forbidden love is unheard of. Everyone knows everything, and you have to be prepared to be held responsible for your actions by everyone you know. In a place where gossip is more dangerous than confrontations, love is not what it seems but what everyone pretends it is.
Though disquieting at times, this novel stretches the readers views on what love really means by taking it to every extreme. It explores every crevice in the human heart that love can sink into and make itself a home. At first, I rejected the associations that the
characters made with love. It is hard for me to comprehend the connections made with love between a pimp and his prostitute, or a corrupt father and his daughter. I did not see how infatuation with a married woman or marriage without feelings for each other, could all fit under the heading of love. They did not fit into my criteria for what I thought love was, and whom it should be shared by. By the end of the novel I realized that there are many more definitions and characteristics of what love is than I would ever get to experience.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a greatly celebrated author, makes unusual but
fascinating connections between love and death. During the cholera epidemic there was sickness and death, hopelessness and loneliness. He incorporates all the feelings of that environment into his story. Because of this, the novel has the reader's emotion bordering on hope and hopelessness, acceptance and rejection, love and hate, lucidity and insanity,
to the point where differentiating between them seems almost impossible.
You get to know the characters intimately. Recognizing the different situations and or predicaments each character is faced with helps to understand their actions and feelings. You learn about their fears, and also their motivations. Such as the revered Dr. Urbino, who convinces himself he is young by keeping the same routine and appearance from when he was twenty-five. His wife Fermina is not much better, having to convince herself that the life she chose was the one she actually wanted. And then of course there is her forever suitor, Florentino, whose only reason for living is to love. The reader is invited to take a peek into each of the characters' minds. A little bit of their history, their dreams and their reality is revealed by doing so. But only enough information is given. There is still more than enough room for readers to explore their own ideas on what is going on. Understanding who the characters are is a big part of this book. And aside from making it more interesting, it makes the story more personal and relatable to the reader. It is encouraging for the reader to know, whether they are a hopeless romantic or a cynic, that there are worse predicaments that love could have caused for them. It is also refreshing to see that there is always hope for things to get better.
It's in the title, this is a love story, but not like any you've ever heard before.
on March 23, 2004
As a person who is not an avid reader, I found Love in the Time of Cholera to be very good. Marquez's style of writing may be difficult to swallow at first, but the storyline is easy to follow. Florentino falls madly in love with Fermina, but she marries the well-respected Dr. Urbino instead. Florentino experiences a roller coaster of emotions, but he holds onto the fact that Fermina will be his love. Someone may get lost or confused by the book because not everything happens in chronological order. I could not discern who the main characters were until the second chapter, but I could still follow the events taking place.
This book is definitely not a quick read because of Marquez's copious details. Several times I needed to take time and slow down to make sure that I read every word carefully. Marquez's fabulous detail makes the characters and their responses very believable. I found the description of the death of Dr. Urbino to be particularly superb: "Her recognized her, and he looked at her for the last and final time with eyes more luminous, more grief-stricken, more grateful than she had ever seen them in a half a century of a shared life, and he managed to say with his last breath: 'Only God knows how much I loved you.'" It was effortless to pick up Florentino's lack of control over his emotions, Fermina's stubbornness, and Dr. Urbino's quiet and dignified personality. With such great development of characters, I tried to predict how they would act and react to turning points in the story.
In addition, I could empathize with the characters and their situations. It is hard not to respond with some sort of emotion since the book is packed with so many of them, especially in Florentino's case. He goes through so many vicious cycles of feelings, both highs and lows, but the cycle always ends with him thinking that he is saving himself for Fermina.
However, not everything in the books was to my liking. I believe fully that love should be reserved for the sanctity of marriage. Apparently, Florentino thinks quite the opposite since he is involved in hundreds and hundreds of affairs during the fifty-one years he is supposedly waiting for Fermina. And one of the affairs mentioned specifically is with a fourteen year old girl who is in his care. Marquez also uses great detail in scenes where Florentino is on his quests as a hunter of women, or birds as he called them. In the few affairs of Florentino that Marquez elaborates upon, he spares no detail from the point of Florentino meeting the woman at some rendezvous point until he leaves. I could have done without that. Maybe once would be acceptable, but not once for every different person.
With so many actions happening because of and in the name of love, both good bad, the book weaves a rich tapestry of the meaning of love. There could be as many interpretations of love from this book as there are pages. For example, love is what you make of it, good or bad, and you cannot wait for love to come to you. You will definitely get something out of this book on the subject of love, maybe positive, maybe negative.
In summary, I highly recommend this book, mainly because the events are easy to follow. In addition, it is masterfully written with incredible detail, and the characters are very believable. However, some parts of the book I personally did not care for, but that is just my preference. I would recommend that other people read this book because it is so densely packed with emotions and ideas on the subject of love that it is amazing. Be sure to take time and read carefully.
on July 2, 2002
Garcia Marquez had a surefire masterpiece in One Hundred Years of Solitude. Since then, he spent about fifteen years writing, but no book really matched the smashing success of the aforementioned fine novel. Love in the Time of Cholera is on some level a self-conscious attempt to write another world-shattering novel; Marquez adopts the tone of a classic Spanish romantic and writes nothing less than an epic. For an epic is exactly what this is - a crackpot story of an unrequited love so noble, pure, and, well, epic, that it lasts a whole lifetime. And the thing is - it works. It works because Marquez is a master storyteller, and moreover, a man who knows and understands the complexities of life. This may be a story of unrequited love, but it's no forgettable fairy tale. As in One Hundred Years of Solitude, Marquez succeeds in writing a book in which it matters not a whit whether or not the events inside it actually did happen or could happen. The thing is, the way he writes it makes you believe that it could happen, and by virtue of that alone it becomes something that could happen.
It's not a perfect book. Marquez takes many of the unique stylistic elements and devices found in One Hundred Years of Solitude and reuses them, presenting them here in more conventional ways. This may sound like Love in the Time of Cholera is more accessible, but it actually isn't; I was not fully drawn into the book until the second half. When I _was_ finally drawn into it, though, I was _really_ drawn into it. Like Marquez's hero Florentino Ariza, I was very much playing for keeps. And I was amazed to find myself caring so much about his characters at that point that I literally could no longer stop reading. And given that, there really isn't much criticism I have about the book. Ideally, I'd give it four and a half stars, but since I don't have that option, I'm rounding it down to four. It is not the indispensable stunner that One Hundred Years of Solitude is, perhaps - if you have the goal of only reading one Marquez book in your whole life, it should still be that one - but it's a fine novel written by a master who has shown himself to still be at the top of his game.
on June 26, 2002
Marquez carries us along and into his dizzying world of brilliance and half-reality until we start to feel at home in this surreal place of his imagination, just as we have begun to accept the impossible characters not only as real, but also as people we actually know well and are comfortable with. And then, on page 326, a supporting actor who had been forgotten for one hundred pages reappears to engineer an illegal arms transaction with Joseph Conrad!
Even with an author for whom reality and fantasy are usually indistinguishable, such a thing is almost too much. I nearly had to stop reading, I was so astonished; and who knows? Such a thing might actually be historically accurate!
But such are the things that bring us back to Marquez, despite the numerous and often nearly-insurmountable difficulties; this, my second reading of Love In The Time Of Cholera and probably not my last because there is more to be discovered.
I sat through The English Patient twice because I thought there was a depth that I had missed the first time. There wasn't: the second time through it became disappointingly trite; not so with Senor Marquez ... you did miss it the first time, in fact, you missed most of it.
In case you did not know (I did not until I looked it up) there actually IS a Magdalena River that runs North, somehow avoiding being swept into the Amazon, and empties into the Caribbean Ocean. That much, at least, is factual and it wends much of its way in the modern country of Columbia. Perhaps it all seems so unfamiliar simply because we really are not familiar with this part of the world, and at the early part of the last century? Perhaps, but only partly; there is a great deal of the mundane human experience that is the same all over the world that I have visited and lived in, and Marquez breaks certain rules that simply are not broken in reality, however distant in time and space. And it is at least partly that breaking that makes him so appealing but also because he illuminates certain constancies that survive the maelstrom of events in his books in a way that speaks to my condition, if no one else's.
"... among the countless suicides he could remember, this was the first with cyanide that had not been caused by the sufferings of love. Then something changed in the tone of his voice. 'And when you do find one, observe with care,' he said to the intern: 'they almost always have crystals in their heart.'"
"... a clandestine life shared with a man who was never completely hers, but in which they often knew the sudden explosion of happiness, did not seem to her a condition to be despised. On the contrary, life had shown her that perhaps it was exemplary."
"Life would still present them with other mortal trials, of course, but that no longer mattered: they were on the other shore."
"... then the resolute steps in the courtyard and the man's voice: 'It is better to arrive in time than to be invited.'
She thought she would die of joy. Without time to think of it, she washed her hands as well as she could while she murmured: 'Thank you, God, thank you, how good you are.' ... But she dried her hands as best she could on her apron, arranged her appearance as best she could, called on all the haughtiness she had been born with to calm her maddened heart ... and [was] grateful to her fate for the immense relief of going home ..."
Marquez knows, of course, that she would return as soon as she was called. So grant him his prizes and read his books and don't ask why it ends as it does and don't ask what cholera has to do with anything.
on April 6, 2001
What is cholera? What does "The Time of Cholera" stand for as a literary device, and how does Cholera affect Love?
I am ignorant of love and death, but Marquez himself says of his lovers: "they had lived together long enough to know that love was always love, anytime and anyplace, but it was more solid the closer it came to death."
The story begins with the smell of cyanide, bitter almonds, unrequited love. Unrequited love, like cyanide or cholera, can kill BUT ONLY BY CHOICE. One may also endure and hope. (And drink plenty of fluids! Cholera toxin binds the GM1 ganglioside and makes fluids and electrolytes pour from the body. One dies excruiatingly of dehydration.)
Dehydration: Love is like water, one must stay filled with both. Why was the lover, Florentino, head of a river boat company? The river was drying up, the manatees were dying, yet he still persisted on going up river flying the flag of quarantine.
Death pervades. Death gives love permission to access magic. Through love and magic, the lover is spared death. Love becomes a vehicle to float one's craft above the waters in a desiccating land.
"From the moment I was born, said Florentino Ariza, I have never said anything I did not mean."
As for myself, I am the poor Dr. Juvenal Urbino, trying to cure cholera through medicine and proper sewer design, one hand on the ladder, green suspenders flapping in the air, being eyed by an evil parrot, mangoes out of reach, suspended over pavement with no hope of communion. But from the top of my ladder, I can see the riverboats, and give a final wave to salute the lovers who will soon sail upstream...and in that salute, the parrot soars free.
Bueno. There is wind in my hair.
P.S. Why has no one said how very funny is this magical work? If you doubt me, ask the parrot. He sits now atop the mango tree and takes his pick. He is Florentino Aziza with feathers.
on May 6, 1998
I picked up this book because I thought I should read something by this much-celebrated author, and was told that this was an easier bite to chew than jumping into 100 Years of Solitude right away. After reading nothing but glowing, laudatory reviews of this novel, I had the highest expectations. This certainly plays a role in my disappointment.
I approach this book as a 17-year-old girl, and obviously much world experience is hard to come by in that length of time. I am, however, about the age that Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza were when they first fell in love and I myself have been "infatuated at first sight." And still from my perspective, their actions are foreign and nonsensical to me. It is inconceivable that a man could have 622 liaisons and yet still be "true in his heart" to one woman.
On a more abstract level, I have been in love; as in love as a 17-year-old can know how to be. I remember falling into a desperate infatuation at first sight and not knowing any better than to call it love, and I know how different I felt after two years of a solid relationship. To think that I slandered the term love by using it to describe my stupid, immature, and (even more) inexperienced feelings that I possessed without even talking to him is painful for me to think about. I can only hypothesize what loving someone for 30 years would do. What strikes me most about this book is that Daza and Ariza's love seems unchanging; after 53 years they pick up where they left off and assume that each is still the same they were all those years ago. Ariza still pines for Daza with the same romantic fervor he felt as a young man--it's not that older couples don't feel passion, it's just that passion should be both tempered and enlivened by a closer bond than Ariza has.
I will admit my inexperience in matters of the heart, but I do have a conception of what love is and it isn't congruent with Marquez's. 622 affairs as! ide (one with a 14-year-old girl, I might add), Ariza appears to have not matured past the lovesick, manic depressive young man who stalked Daza in the first place. I find that when I consider the issues without the aid of Marquez's romantic prose, they are much harder for me to identify with and understand.
on June 24, 2003
This is great book and really deserves the tag of "classic" that is associated with it. Marquez creates memorable characters that are demand emotion from the readers as thier life unfolds. Florentino is the unliked the who at first emits nievity turned into annoyance turned into pathos and completed with acceptance. Flamina is portrayed in a delicate manner as loving woman and we come to like her even though she rejects the protagonist. Marquez jumps around these characters lives flawlessly and the book spans their whole life but does not overstay its welcome.
Marquez' imagery goes well with eternal love theme and the reader will finish this book feeling complete and content. For anyone who has viewed a loved one from the outside this book offers eventual hope although some might determine it depressing. Is it better to have loved and lost or to never have loved at all?
Bottom Line: success in a time of cholera!
on October 29, 2001
Almost everything Florentino Ariza has done in his adult life has been for Fermina Daza, Ariza's young love who shunned him decades ago. Florentino Ariza's devotion has lasted through his rise up the occupational ladder, stagnant disapproval from Fermina Daza's father, several meaningless erotic affairs, Daza's marriage to the stern intellectual, Dr. Jubinal Urbino, and fifty years. This impressive, convincing and charming love story acts as a vehicle for Marquez's vivid descriptive powers. While reading this book one feels as if he or she is smelling the perfumed letters; breathing in the wet, moist mornings; tasting the fried fish and feeling the sticky air. Marquez effectively casts his spell and the reader is ensnared with with Florentino Ariza and his feelings of longing and misery.
on March 30, 2003
I admire GGM's patience for love both in love in the time of cholera and hundred years of solitude. he is alive when he talks of the waiting years. he thrives in the longing, he carves and carves the walls of a waiting heart and nourishes the memories. that's what makes it breathtaking. the suspense is carefully and patiently savored, its juice came ever so sweetly.
excellent,too are his brilliant thoughts on ordinary ircumstances. there were things one would not thnk of verbalizing but there they were blinding you with the simple fear or discomfort of truth.
there is however a part that left me rather lost, maybe out of misinterpretation. there is a portion in the book i found unresolved. I believe, in a book, all holes must be covered.