Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Posted 6 March, 2012 by Trish in Reading Nook, Review / 28 Comments

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Title: Love in the Time of Cholera
Author: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Published: 1988 Pages: 348
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 3/5

In Short (and overly romanticized): Boy (Florentino) falls in love with girl (Fermina), but they are not to be. Boy grows into man and girl marries another (Urbino); man yearns for woman for the rest of his life.

Why I read: I read this one for a book club meeting, but I’ve had it on my shelf for years and had hoped to eventually get to it. I blame the movie Serendipity (and John Cusack) for my interest in this book.

Thoughts in General: I’m not going to lie–at the time I am drafting this post I still have twenty pages left. And I’ve had twenty pages left for two months. I do plan to read those twenty pages–I just don’t have any drive to do it now, even though I’ve been carrying around this book in my purse for two months and would like to carry something else. If that doesn’t say anything, I’m not sure what will. (and yes, I do know the ending).

Alright–I’ll expound. I really enjoyed the process of reading this book–it was slow and tedious reading and I had to concentrate very closely on the words and sentences and paragraphs. Marquez continually moves in tangents and the entire book felt very fluid moving in and out of time and back and forth. I liked all of this–I liked diving in and really paying attention. Or maybe it’s just been a really long time since I’ve found myself lost in a book.

But the characters are terrible! And despicable! And unbelievable! Really–I don’t think there’s a likeable character in this entire book (I did kind of like Leona but that’s probably because she’s the only one who didn’t sleep with Florentino). And while I liked the fluidity of the book, it was hard to pick it up and put it down. And this book goes on forever! And there’s a lot of talk about excrement and other icky things. I can hardly recommend this book without making that last sentence pretty clear.

Bottom Line: I’m on the fence and I think my book club was on the fence. There were a few people who didn’t have interest in reading this one, a few people who refused to read it, a few people who hated every second they were reading, and then those who…  well, I don’t know about those others. I maintain that I liked this book, but I can’t come up with any really concrete reasons of why. The biggest question we debated during our book club discussion (which was really heated and passionate, by the way), was whether this book was really about love. I sure hope so. Otherwise what was the point?

Have you read Love in the Time of Cholera? Do you think this is a love story?

28 Responses to “Love in the Time of Cholera – Gabriel Garcia Marquez”

  1. Honestly I just found this book so dull and pointless that I gave up halfway through. It sounded like modern literary drivel – pointless in order to make a point – and I hate that kind of book… I’m sure there’s more to it than that. I just didn’t personally find it.

  2. This is one of those books that has just scared the bejeezus out of me since the first time I ever heard of it. I honestly can’t imagine myself ever reading it. But Trish, this…

    And there’s a lot of talk about excrement and other icky things. I can hardly recommend this book without making that last sentence pretty clear.

    …just totally cracked me up! :D

  3. I haven’t read it, but I did try 100 Years of Solitude and felt very much the same way you describe here. It’ll take more brain power than I have right now to read this one, so it’ll be a while. lol

  4. I love that you just can’t seem to read those last 20 pages. :)

    It’s funny because in my review I say I could read the book for hours and yet I had no problem not picking it up for days at a time. I guess I found it hard to put down and hard to pick up too.

  5. I’ve had a copy of this forever, on the mental “should read” list, but if it’s too literary for YOU, you know I’m gonna hate it. I think I’m going to mark it off my list and not give it another thought.

  6. I haven’t read any Marquez, but I haven’t heard of many people that actually like this book. I have One Hundred Years of Solitude on my shelf and I’m scared to pick it up.

  7. Meg

    To me this is one of those classics people love to discuss, but I don’t think I’ve ever really seen a positive opinion of it! Like War and Peace, say, it’s considered classic literary fiction but seems inaccessible to me. I’m not sure I would ever give it a go, and the fact that 20 pages remain for you is quite telling! (Chuck it and pick up something more interesting, haha.)

  8. I read this a long time ago and really struggled to finish (maybe it was for my book club?). Then I tried One Hundred Years of Solitude… three times. Never made it past page 50. Sorry to say I’ve give up on GGM.

  9. I couldnt stand one hundred years of solitude and only made it halfway through that one. So als me and GGM will never get on, far too boring for me.

  10. *Debi – I did use the word “poop” originally but decided “excrement” would be a bit more formal. Ha! ;)

    *Laura – Hmmm–do your thoughts include hhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhate? ;) You would have liked our discussion, though!

    *Andi – I found this one to be a lot easier than 100 Years of Solitude but I’m not sure it’s any better.

    *Trisha – I figure it will take me an hour to finish the last 20 pages and I just haven’t wanted to devote an hour to it! And I know just what you mean about this one being hard to put down and hard to pick up! I felt the same.
    *Lisa – Ditch your copy. Seriously.

    *bermudaonion – To be fair–part of the reason I haven’t finished the book is because I already know how it’ll end…

    *Kristi – Isn’t it funny how people can so dislike a book but yet it continues to be read? I think we have Oprah to thank for it–think this was one of her book club picks. 100 Years was a tough one. If you do read it, immediately print out the family tree from Wikipedia!

    *Meg – I’ve decided that the best book club books are the ones that people don’t like! It definitely made for interesting discussion. I haven’t read War and Peace but it does make you wonder why some of these books continue to be read!

    *JoAnn – Oh ya–100 Years is really tough! In hindsight I think the only reason I might like that one more is the Magical Realism and this one more because it’s easier. Ha!

    *Jessica – This one is easier and more straight forward than 100 Years, but it’s very dense and doesn’t lend itself well to skimming. I don’t blame you for ditching GGM! ;)

  11. I have to admit I am struggling with this one. The writing is beautiful and I did enjoy how the plot meanders it’s way here and there at first, but now I just want to wrap it up. I want to be done with it and start a new book. I feel like that says a lot.

    Also, like you, every time I watch Serendipity I feel like I should read this novel, which was part of the reason I bought it :)

  12. He was a nutso stalker! the end. Not a romantic story. STalker and slut!

    Actually, I looked up my review and here is what I said about him: “Florentino Ariza was a nymphomaniac who justified his use of women as ‘being true’ to his one true love, Fermina Daza. He treated women as objects and kept a record of his conquests. One of his ‘lovers’ was fourteen and under his care as her guardian. When Humbert Humbert did that in Lolita he was a pedophile, but Florentino is never judged for it.”

  13. Oh. Eck. I’ve been thinking someday I’ll get to this but it sounds awful. I actually liked 100 Years of Solitude, even though it took me eons to get through it, so I was hoping it would be a good one.

    I need to watch Serendipity. Haven’t seen that in a long, long time.

  14. I didn’t like the characters either and I had to force myself to finish reading it.
    I don’t think I’ll be reading another of his books any time soon.

  15. I blamed Cusack for making me read this one, too, and I gotta tell you it was one of the only times he and I have had a falling out. Loved the writing, hated the story. Still don’t know if I will ever read another of Marquez’ books again. Good thing for Cusack that my love for him is so firmly rooted in that image of him holding the boom box over his head in Say Anything!

  16. 100 Years of Solitude was enough GGM for me! You couldn’t pay me to read this one. (Okay, maybe you could…if the price was right.)

  17. Oh! I thought your post woud tell me you read those 20 pages. Just read em already! I know I will never read this book. It’s nice to admit things like that sometimes.

  18. I did not love this one either. I had to look up my review of it to remind myself why. I called Florentino “a dirty old pervert” so I guess that’s why!

  19. *Brenna – Good luck with the rest of this one! I actually buckled down today at lunch and finished the last 20 pages. It just continues to drag on and on… ;)

    *raidergirl – LOL!!! I died at the end when Florentino told Fermina that had remained a virgin for her. What a load… I think I could have handled some of this better had there not be so many Icky things discussed in the book (really…enemas?!).

    *Bookfool – In terms of story, I liked 100 Years better. But this was an easier read–maybe because it contained less Magical Realism (and all the characters have *different* names). Have you read any Isabel Allende?

    *ohcupcake – The only other book I’ve read is One Hundred Years of Solitude and it was really tough to get through. It’s hard to keep reading when you can’t like any of the characters!

    *Lisa – What was that terrible motel movie that Cusack did? We definitely had a falling out over that one, but Say Anything will make up for just about…well, anything. Sounds like we’re on the same page with this one–worthy writing but the plot. Ick!

    *Jenny – Such a marketing ploy, huh? I think they probably could have picked a more romantic book to include in Serendipity!

    *softdrink – This one was easier than 100 Years but without all of the lovely Magical Realism (if you like that sort of thing). I think I’ll get my South American kicks from Allende from now on.

    *Kailana – I’ll be curious what you think of this one!

    *Care – TADA!!! Finished at lunch today. :)

    *Chrisbookarama – LOL! Yes, that’s a very apt description of Florentino (though that puts it nicely!)

  20. I haven’t read ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ myself, but I have read two of his other books. He’s the kind of author I want to like more, but don’t; his writing just doesn’t get much of a reaction out of me.

  21. I have read only one book by Marquez so far – Memories of my Melancholy Whores. I found it too weird and dark for my taste. I have had Love in the Time of Cholera lying on my bookshelf for ages now, but somehow do not feel like picking it up. :(

    One of my friends raves about this book, though. He loves Marquez’s writing style, which, I guess, is not for everyone.

  22. Haha- I loved reading your thoughts on this one! It sounds like you had mixed feelings for it…those can be some of the hardest reviews to write! I’ll admit to having no interest in this book but I’m glad that you liked it.

  23. *Nisa – I wonder how much of the writing might be a translation thing? Marquez is so highly lauded that I can’t help but wonder. Though I did like the writing–just not the story. Ha!

    *Galnextdoor – I haven’t heard much about Memories of My Melancholy Whores but the title does make me raise my eyebrows!

    *Sam – LOL–be glad that you don’t have any interest in this book. Plenty others to read! ;)

  24. I love your review. In fact, I posted it to my book’s facebook page ( along with a quote from my novella where a character of mine is reminiscing over the first time she read it. Anyway, your blog is delightful. I’m leaving a link below to my own review of the book from when I read it, if you don’t mind. I think my favorite part about this book is that it’s awful and great and terrible and beautiful – not beautiful. No one ever seems to know quite what to make of it.