Love in the Time of Cholera

by Gabriel García Márquez | Literature & Fiction |
ISBN: 014103372X Global Overview for this book
Registered by bookguide of Wijchen, Gelderland Netherlands on 7/16/2022
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2 journalers for this copy...
Journal Entry 1 by bookguide from Wijchen, Gelderland Netherlands on Saturday, July 16, 2022
Fifty-one years, nine months and four days ago, Florentino's adoring love was rejected by the beautiful Fermina. While she became the model wife to a wealthy doctor, poor Florentino pined for her, and has done so ever since, never finding love or peace as he yearn for the day he can woo her again. When Fermina's husband is killed falling from a mango tree, Florentino seizes his chance to declare his enduring love. But can young love find new life in the twilight of their lives?

Journal Entry 2 by bookguide at Wijchen, Gelderland Netherlands on Saturday, July 16, 2022
I am reminded of novels by John Irving, with a colourful cast of larger-than-life characters, bizarre and gruesome events and an accompanying menagerie. There is more death and disease in this novel than life worth living, but it’s not really cholera. There is more sex and obsession than love. And the city is full of decay, surrounded by swamps and disgusting smells. The story is repulsive but the writing is often lyrical.

SPOILERS AHEAD. I discuss the plot of the book, so don’t read on if you don’t want to know what happens!

The very first paragraph drew me in with its atmosphere and the Proustian hint of memories invoked by smell and taste. “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urgency many years before.” Later on, the scent of gardenias will remind the lovestruck Florentino Ariza of the woman he thinks he loves, Fermina Daza, who marries the older Dr Urbino, whose mission in life is to practise medicine following scientific principles, reducing the likelihood of cholera by introducing sewers to the city.

The book starts with Urbino going to certify the death of his friend who has committed suicide as he believes people should not live into old age. I suspect Dr Urbino may have agreed, but by the time he reaches old age, he is suffering from dementia, so he lives on, cared for by his devoted wife, until disaster strikes. This is one of those surreal scenes that made me sure I was going to love this book, but they are few and far between. Nevertheless, García Márquez definitely shows a sense of humour. His dreadfully flawed anti-hero Florentino Ariza does not just have a few affairs, he has 25 notebooks recording his assignations with various women, not counting his visits to prostitutes. Nevertheless, he tells every woman he was a virgin before he met them and claims to have saved himself for over 50 years for the love of his life, Fermina Daza. No fool, she realises this is not true, and appreciates the fact that his liaisons have been so discreet that local gossips assume he has a secret room where he takes young boys he finds at the docks. Nothing can be further from the truth.

In the final section of the book, the two aged friends go on a paddle steamer trip up the river to the capital, Santa Fe. Fermina Daza has always wanted to visit the jungle interior of the country, but her husband preferred to go to Europe. Florentino Ariza arranged everything for her, but just happens to mention he will be travelling too, the first time he has done so since he had been young. There are many disappointments on the way, not least that the paddle steamers themselves have destroyed the jungle and its wildlife as the trees have been cut down for fuel. No monkeys and parrots and alligators and manatees are to be seen from Fermina Daza’s luxury suite. Slowly the childhood sweethearts draw closer together, clumsily, and eventually they find a way to be together, away from the social pressures and distractions of the real world. The end.

It sounds like a perfect idyll, but it’s all based on lies. Since a left-wing newspaper which attacks rich property owners publishes revelations of her husband’s infidelities, some of them lies, Fermina Daza has become a pragmatist and is irritated by Florentino Ariza’s more romantic declarations of love. She has never believed the rumours that he was homosexual and, in fact, has hit upon the truth that he must have had lovers but was extremely discreet. So when he tells her he has saved himself for her, she knows it is not true. However, she does not realise how sordid his discreet affairs were, especially the last one with his niece. Incidentally, I have seen many people claiming Florentino Ariza’s relationship with the 14-year-old America Vicuña made him a pedophile. Distasteful as you may find it, and the age difference certainly makes it feel especially unacceptable, but the age of consent in Colombia is still 14! The way in which he casts her aside when he reconnects with Fermina Daza, however, is callous and typical. He is a repulsive man who uses women and casts them off when they are inconvenient.

The final romantic voyage is not romantic at all, it’s an avoidance of responsibility. The time of cholera; a feverish time full of hallucinations and recurring nightmares. There’s more than a hint that the ship’s captain might murder them. But it seems equally probable that Fermina Daza will end her days caring for him as she cared for her husband. Service not romance. There is no romance in this book.

Journal Entry 3 by bookguide at BC meeting 2022 in Castricum, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Saturday, July 16, 2022

Released 6 mos ago (7/17/2022 UTC) at BC meeting 2022 in Castricum, Noord-Holland Netherlands

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Released during the wonderful Dutch BookCrossing meeting on the beach in Castricum-aan-Zee.
This book has been released for the following challenges:
- The Ultimate Challenge - read and release books, with bonus points for monthly themes
- Reduce Mount TBR (To Be Read) - read books which were already on your TBR shelf before the start of this year.
- 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die Challenge
- 666 Challenge: read 6 Books from 6 countries from each of the 6 Continents = 36 books

Journal Entry 4 by wingjanna2wing at Castricum, Noord-Holland Netherlands on Monday, July 18, 2022
Meegenomen uit Castricum om los te laten in de boekwissel op Utrecht CS.

Journal Entry 5 by wingjanna2wing at StationsBoekWissel Beneden in Utrecht, Utrecht Netherlands on Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Released 2 mos ago (12/1/2022 UTC) at StationsBoekWissel Beneden in Utrecht, Utrecht Netherlands

WILD RELEASE NOTES:

Hallo daar, vinder! Als je dit leest, heb je een boek gevonden. Gefeliciteerd! Hopelijk is het iets dat je leuk vindt; zo niet, dan heeft het je toch tenminste hier gebracht en dat is ook wat waard. Je mag het boek gerust doorgeven aan iemand anders, of zomaar ergens achterlaten. Ondertussen was je toch maar mooi nieuwsgierig genoeg om op deze site te komen kijken. Kijk gerust wat rond. Veel plezier! Als je het boek ook wilt volgen dan kun je je het beste aanmelden als nieuwe bookcrosser (Engelse pagina). Ik zou het erg leuk vinden als je mijn naam (janna2) wilt invullen als Referring Member, dan kan ik zien dat je ook een geregistreerde bookcrosser bent geworden.Oh ja, er is ook een Nederlandse website voor als je nog meer wilt weten over bookcrossing: www.bookcrossing.nl.

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