Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez: Book Review

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Love in the Time of Cholera Book Cover

3 Stars

Fermina Daza and Florentino Ariza fall in love when they’re very young. Ultimately, Fermina chooses to marry Juvenal Urbino, a wealthy, well-respected doctor from a good family. Florentino decides to wait for Dr. Urbino to die so he can renew his pursuit of Fermina. As he waits, he has 622 affairs.

The best thing about this book for me was the beauty of the language. Even as a translation, García Márquez’s writing is lush, descriptive, and transportive. This was the first description I fell in love with:

“He almost always ate lunch at home and had a ten-minute siesta on the terrace in the patio, hearing in his sleep the songs of the servant girls under the leaves of the mango trees, the cries of vendors on the street, the uproar of oil and motors from the bay whose exhaust fumes fluttered through the house on hot afternoons like an angel condemned to putrefaction.”

I just read this and I was there. I love when authors do that to me.

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But at heart, I’m a reader in search of a good story with good characters. The language bogged the story down a bit, which I could probably have overlooked, but I also disliked Florentino. That was more of a deal-breaker for me. In 622 affairs, there’s a bit of a trail of destruction, and that left me disenchanted with the romantic idea of waiting for your true love. I did enjoy reading about Fermina and Urbino’s years together as they try to make a marriage work. One of their arguments practically had me laughing out loud. It was over a silly thing, but those seem to be the arguments that are the worst. García Márquez got all of that so right. I really wish I could bump this up to 4 stars, but I just can’t.

Readers who love beautiful language will eat this one up. Those in search of likable characters might want to give it a pass.

Reviewed February 16, 2009

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  1. I read this in one of my college courses and for the life of me I can't remember anything about it…until reading your review. Can't remember if I liked it or not, probably not since I can't remember it. Not as memorable as 100 Years of Solitude. I read one of his more recent ones, the melancholy whore one, and wasn't as satisfied with it either.

  2. I actually read this book, but not all of it. I stopped like in the middle. Too bad, because I actually want to know the end. I think I will borrow it very soon again at the library. It was too long and it dragged too much. It took a lot of effort for me to continue reading it. Somethimes it was just too boring and I could not believe that he did all those things!
    Great review!

  3. Every time I think I might want to read this book I change my mind and your thoughts cinch it for me. There's nothing romantic about having 622 affairs, even if he is pining for the love of his life the whole time. For a book to be good to me, I need to love the characters, or love to hate them. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Totally agree about this one. I really wanted to love it. The writing was breathtaking at times but the story just didn't work for me and I didn't care for the ending.

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