Saturday, 11 April 2009

Love in the Time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Read: May 2007

“It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love.”

With these words, my favourite in all of literature, Gabriel Garcia Marquez begins his masterpiece. They convey so much of what we consider most central to the experience of love: fate, futility, devotion, longing and sum up perfectly all that follows. 

Love in the Time of Cholera is a wonderfully frail portrayal of half a century’s worth of love in all its forms, from unrequited youthful obsession through soul-enhancing physical lust, to platonic dedication and the undying flame of timeless love. 
When octogenarian Dr. Juvenal Urbino falls from a ladder while trying to rescue his pet parrot from a tree there is one man in the town who does not mourn his passing. His name is Florentino Ariz and for more than fifty years he has dedicated his life to waiting for this day to come. This day when he can once again profess his love for Urbino’s wife, Fermina Daza, the woman who spurned him in the hazy days of their youth.  
Love in the Time of Cholera sees Marquez at the very height of his story-telling capabilities. He holds his characters effortlessly in the air, dipping into their lives to extract an event here, a moment there, with graceful ease. Marquez knows his characters like they are old friends. The structure is so natural, the shifts in point of view occur invisibly, as though you are not switching at all, for each characters story is about the same, almost personified, love. 
With its protagonists now in the sunset of their lives, worn down and out of the habit of giving way to such forgotten emotions, Love in the Time of Cholera combines the emotional pull of teenage first-love, with the resonance of unexpected moments snatched from the jaws of fate.

A fantastic read.

7.5 out of 10

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