The book club that I was running with my newspaper has sadly come to an end. The participation just wasn’t there and that might well be in part because of our picks.
Our final pick was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Considered a classic by many, the book tells the story of Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza.
As young adults, Florentino falls in love with Fermina, who to an extent falls in love with him. However, Fermina later decides she doesn’t love Florentino anymore and chooses to marry a young doctor.
Florentino never marries, instead carrying on hundreds of affairs for more than 50 years as he waits for Fermina to be free to be his again.
Eventually, Fermina’s husband dies and Florentino declares (again) his eternal love for her. He promptly gets thrown out of her house.
But over several years, Fermina’s heart warms and the two become companions, before becoming lovers.
Garcia Marquez’s book is a good premise, but it’s hard to love the characters and the plot when it is so weighted down. The language (which I’m sure is beautiful in its original Spanish) is too flowerly at times.
We don’t need detailed descriptions of minor characters and settings. We don’t need details of the affairs of Florentino (including one with a 14-year-old girl when he’s in his 60s or 70s).
The structure of the book is also confusing. The chapters are long and bounce between the past and the present. The timeline isn’t always easy to follow either. It’s hard to determine how old the main characters are at certain points.
I can understand–to an extent–why this book is considered a classic. The language is beautiful.
But, I think it is a classic in Spanish, where there’s nothing to get lost in translation. I’m glad I read it, but I don’t think I’ll read anything else by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.