I loved the last Márquez book I read, Memories of My Melancholy Whores, and was eager to try one of his more celebrated novels. That led me here.
Unfortunately, Love in the Time of Cholera was one of those books that just didn’t live up to its billing. I know it’s often noted as being a classic, especially in South American literature, but I found it droned on for far too long.
There is definitely a lot to think about, and when you dig deeper, a lot of commentary on the perception of love. However, in between the moments of action is a lot of prancing.
Usually, Márquez’s settings are rich in detail. They live and breathe on their own accord; stretching out beyond the feet of the characters encapsulating them. Yet, here I struggled to become enthralled by the same feelings.
My biggest problem with this book is that it hasn’t aged at all well.
Hold on while I climb onto my feminist soapbox…
When an obsessive, leery bloke disguises his infatuation as love, it’s hard to get on board with him. Sure, characters can be unlikeable and the book still great, a la American Psycho, but here it feels sleazy.
I guess in the last thirty-five years, since the publication of this book, a lot has changed. One of those significant changes in the way in which we, as a society, view each other. Personal relationships have rightfully levelled out to a much more even playing field.
These changes, regardless of how you read older material, will always have a bearing on your opinion because they are a part of who you are today.
It doesn’t help that the book spans fifty-one years of his insatiable lust, chasing her down and bombarding her with love letters.
Here, lovesickness is akin to the plague that’s ravishing its way through the Spanish people. In Florentino’s case, once you have it, there’s only one cure; to marry the love of his life, Fermina.
If only she would pay attention to him.
Throughout I struggled to relate to any of Florentino’s feelings of despair, and Fermina’s indecisive nature. This was the primary driving force behind this book, feeling much longer than it was.
Love in the Time of Cholera is a well-received classic in the eyes of many, but I couldn’t find that hook; that special something that would grab me. Like Florentino and his love for Fermina, I waited and waited, but alas, there was no reward to be had.
Although there were a few rare glimpses of Márquez’s repertoire, this one mostly fell flat for me.
I’d consider reading another book by Gabriel García Márquez, but I’m not entirely sure where to turn from here. If you have any suggestions, let me know in the comments below.