A review of “Love In The Time Of Cholera” by Gabriel García Márquez

Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927 and died in 2014. This work – one his most famous – was published in 1981 and he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982. I finally read the work after seeing the film and visiting Colombia, including Cartagena, the Caribbean city where the novel is located (although this is not specifically stated in the text).

I suppose that initially I was put off somewhat by the Penguine English transation which uses small print and by the formatting which is long paragraphs and a mere six (untitled) chapters for the 348 pages. But once one starts to read the novel, it is just such a delight since Márquez has a wonderfully fluid and engaging style. There is no dialogue as such, just occasional quotes from conversations, but the rich narrative sweeps the reader along.

The three main characters are Forentino Ariza and Fermina Daza who are childhood sweethearts and Dr Juvenal Urbino whom she marries after she suddenly rejects her young suitor. When the novel opens Ariza is 76 and Daza is 72, while Urbino is 81 and the subject of a fatal accident. So, having waited for 51 years 9 months and 4 days for Daza to become widowed, Ariza seeks to revive the seemingly doomed love affair, having in the meanwhile never married and never used prostitutes but had an endless number of lovers.

Although few precise dates are given, the long story covers the last half of the 19th century and the first three decades or so of the 20th and Márquez has a magnificent evocation of time and place. This is a novel full of sensuality and sex and of love and loss plus obsessions with fornication, cholera and social etiquette and it is a moving account of the impact of ageing on bodies and minds. So, a really unusual tale but truly a triumph.


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