This novel tells the story of two young lovers who, in their time and circumstance, carried out a love affair almost completely through the use of letters and telegrams – at first because Florentino Ariza was of a perceived lower class than his love Fermina Daza and then because her father forbade the coupling. As it turned out, despite the fact that she agreed to marry Florentino, Fermina was in love with the concept of their distant relationship, not with Florentino himself. She broke off their engagement and ended up marrying a wealthy, well-respected doctor, Juvenal Urbino. From that time forward, Florentino lives in wait of Doctor Urbino’s death so that his love for Fermina can finally be returned.
On the outset, it might feel right to pity Florentino. After all, the love of his life went on to have what appeared to be a happy marriage. He did not, however, remain a virgin as he pined hopelessly for Fermina. Although he could tell you the number of years, months, days, and hours since Fermina broke off their relationship, he enjoyed other women shamelessly. His woman range from virgins to lonely widows in need of a sexual release. The one woman in his life with whom he doesn’t have sex ends up his best friend – and their relationship wasn’t solely platonic because of any decision he made.
I have not read anything by Garcia Marquez until I read Love in the Time of Cholera. Without kn0wing what to expect, I was looking forward to getting started. I was not disappointed. What I enjoyed the most about it is that the time, the place, and the characters are so very different from anything I’ve read this year. This story was also told at a much different manner and pace from other books this year. It was a very interesting read.
What intrigued me most about this book was the reason why cholera was mentioned in the title. Yes, there was much illness from cholera in the book. Doctor Juvenal Urbino’s physician father in fact dies of the disease, and it is important to the last passage of the book. In the end, I found that this title, along with much of the book, provided a little too much information about people and their hygiene. It kept me grounded within the reality of the narrative.
As a side note, I mentioned in my last review that I didn’t think that it worked for the main character not to be named in The Ice Queen. By contrast, the characters in this book were almost always (I counted two exceptions – one each for Fermina and Florentino) referred to using their full names. This literary devise worked very well here as it distanced the reader from the characters with this formality much in the same way that cultural formalities kept Florentino from Fermina.
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