While sorting which books I would review and in what order, I confused two of Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s books. A good lesson for readers would be to space out books from the same author; alternate between two to three authors. It helps avoid confusing one book’s plot for another. Let me tell you about the first time that I picked up Love in the Time of Cholera. I was still taking Spanish classes in college around 2010. I had originally wanted to get my B.A. in Spanish and an excerpt of this book was on my reading list. So, I decided to check out the entire book in Spanish from UCSB’s Davidson Library. I realized after two pages that I was not cut out for the endeavor.
“She had never imagined that curiosity was one of the many masks of love.”
I highlighted all the words in Spanish that I did not understand. And, oof! That was a very neon yellow page. (Yes, I highlighted on a UCSB library book.) The book ended up back at the library. I don’t regret it. Flash forward many years later, I finally picked up the book again. This time I chose an English edition. The book itself is gripping. Love in the Time of Cholera is a candid look at love from the masculine perspective. The love triangle involves Florentino Ariza, Fermina Daza, and Dr. Juvenal Urbino. Florentino falls in love with Fermina. But, by the sad twists of fate, Fermina ends up marrying Dr. Juvenal Urbino. And, ugh! The angst! It’s so smutty, perverted at times, and the promiscuity it reveals blends into the reader a sense of discomfort. I found myself struggling with the notion that someone could have multiple true loves and that the choice between them is not always fueled by youthful passion.
“One could be happy not only without love but despite it.”
Love in the Time of Cholera was one of those books that left me with a cauldron of confusing feelings. I sympathized with the protagonist. As the protagonist narrates his experiences, the reader is drawn to connect with him, his losses, his desires, his pain at having lost the opportunity at a life with the woman he loved. But, as time elapses for the character, the reader senses how his feelings lean him toward a toxic cynicism, disenchantment, with regards to relationships, sex, and love. Florentino does some seriously disgusting and borderline incestuous things. By the time that he gets a second chance with Fermina, as a reader, I wondered if he even deserved it. Had he lived his entire life with Fermina, had she known the extent of his perversion, the full color of his soul, would their reunion have been as fairytale-like. Oh, goodness. I have to say that Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera is one of those books that opens the door for such rich conversation regarding: gendered relations, marriage, morality and permissiveness, etc.
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. Love in the Time of Cholera. New York: Vintage, 2007.
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