Love in time of cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

As a teenager, Florentino Ariza falls head over heels in love with the noble Fermina Daza. They send each other secret letters and promise eternal loyalty. Until Fermina returns from a trip and rejects him without giving a good reason. She decides to marry the rich doctor Juvenal Urbino instead. Florentino is desperate, but continues to love Fermina during his life, waiting for her husband to die so that he can take another chance at her.

Let me start by admitting that ‘Love in time of cholera‘ has good and bad points. Marquez’s writing is poetic and incredibly atmospheric. Beautiful sentences flow from his pen. They do not always improve the reading pace, but they are not such a hindrance as with other literary classics. Columbia in all its scents and colours really comes to life. At the same time, there is a lot of melancholy in this book. I did not find any magical realism, for which the author is also known. That seems to be more prominent in his other works.

This is an extremely romantic story. The last 40 pages are amazing. Florentino would really do anything for his Fermina. But…

Florentino falls in love at a very young age with Fermina, who then chooses someone else. Florentino now wants to remain faithful to her by not taking another woman as his wife. Decades later, at her husband’s funeral, he stands at her door to declare her eternal love. Yes, romantic, isn’t it?

Only, in the 50 years in between, our Florentino will lie with literally every woman he meets. His heart is obviously already sold to Fermina, so he doesn’t care about those women at all. Some of his mistresses choose this kind of liaison consciously. But there are also problematic cases. For instance, one woman has her throat cut by her husband after her infidelity is discovered. Another dark-skinned woman confesses that she has been raped so many times that she has started to believe sex is her destiny. And at one point, Florentino becomes the guardian of a 14-year-old girl for whom he holds affection as a grandfather would, apart from also initiating her into sex way too early. And spoiler: that girl will commit suicide before her 20s when Florentino suddenly drops her. Romantic, huh?

So I think Florentino is anything but a nice guy and I am actually very happy for Fermina that she chose someone else. This story is more about obsession than romance I’m afraid. I get the hype for the language and the romantic ending. But for the 21st century, the portrayal of the women in this story is too problematic to be completely overwhelmed.

I might pick up his epos ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ one day, but I’m not sure about it yet 🤔.

This is book 10/50 for the classics club.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read anything by Marquez?

My bookish wishlist

I’m not really a Christmas type of person. Who am I kidding? I’m not at all a Christmas person. Sorry not sorry. I don’t even set up a Christmas tree. So in my family, we don’t do presents. And I don’t mind that. In my boyfriend’s family, we do. In Belgium, we don’t know if Christmas will be even allowed this year (thanks covid, and maybe this time I even mean it). Nevertheless, I decided to make a wishlist of books that I still want on my physical shelves. So that if we do have a Christmas party, I can link to this blogpost ;). If not, I’ll probably buy them all myself one day 😅.

I’ve ‘The song of Achilles’ sitting on my shelves in the Dutch hardcover edition. And I love the sound and cover art of Circe. So I also want this on my shelves. I don’t exactly like the Dutch cover of Circe, so I still don’t know in what language or edition to buy this one. Maybe the English paperback or hardcover edition?

Because she’s my favourite author and I’ve all her books on my shelves. I love this cover 🤩. And although, I’m a bit sad that Fremantle decided to write more historical thrillers instead of historical Tudor fiction, I still like the sound of this story.

This has a total different cover in Europe compared to the US. I think I prefer the US version because it’s more Tudor related (and there are black ravens on it), but this cover is also very pretty. I have all Joanna Hickson’s novels on my shelves, so I want to continue this.

Yes, a non-fiction book. I just love Dan Jones his documentaries and I would like to have this book on my shelves to delve into the history of the Plantagenets. It’s more of a coffee table book for me that I can push into people’s face when people visit me so that I have an excuse to talk about English history.

Just look at that cover ❤️. I already have some of Chadwick’s books on my shelves (the Eleanor of Aquitaine trilogy), but I’m most excited about her newest release. And I haven’t been excited for her new releases in a while, so I really hope to get my hands on ‘A marriage of lions’.

Or ‘the queen’s choice‘ or ‘the forbidden queen‘ of the same author. I already have a few books of her series about Plantagenet women on my shelves, so I want to expand my collection. This one about Elizabeth of Lancaster sounds interesting. Although I miss the typical cover art that I’m used of O’Brien.

I loved Sarah Bower’s other book ‘Sins of the house of Borgia’ (or alternative title: ‘the book of love’). And have been looking for this one ever since. The edition that I actually once saw and loved (but didn’t buy, stupid I know) is not available anymore (not even on a photo in Google), so I’ll settle for anything that is available :). There is also a version with a half naked woman on the cover. All good for me.

Also a favourite author from whom I have different books on my shelves. I don’t want his books about American women, but this one is still on my list. As Catherine De Medici is a historical figure that interests me a lot. And I’m curious to see which perspective Gortner will bring on this scandalous woman.

This is a new-to-me author and the first book in a trilogy set around 1066. I might want to buy this one day as a physical edition, but maybe I’ll download it one day in my kindle. Not sure yet. But I would be happy to get this one as a gift.

So that were 9 books that I would like as a present or that I’ll buy myself one day for my physical shelves. I’m always nervous when I ask for books that they will give a book from a total different genre than I’m used to (like a thriller or a chicklit). I’m really picky on the books I read and especially on the ones that I buy as a physical copy. Or is this just me?

Have you read any of these books? Do you ask for books as a Christmas presents or is that just a silly question? :D.

Broken faith by Toby Clemens

Note: This is the second part in a series, so the short description might include hints about how things ended in the first part, Winter pilgrims.

After the bloody battle of Towton, Edward IV sits on the English throne. Catherine, mourning Thomas, has married Richard Fakenham under the disguise of Margaret Cronford. But when the whole village turns against her, she is locked again at Haverhurst Priory. Thomas, returned from the death, and Catherine now have to run for their lives as an old enemy returns to their doorstep. Bearing proof of a royal secret, they travel to the north where the Lancastrians are waiting to fight for their rightful king Henry VI.

This is the second part in the kingmaker series. Winter Pilgrims ended at Towton, so I though the next battle would be Barnet, but I was wrong. This book is set in the years after Towton (1463-1464) when there are some small battles in the north between Lancaster and York. Lancaster was occupying castles such as Bamburgh and Alnwick, while Margaret of Anjou and her son were living as exiles in France to force alliances. I have never read before about the Battles of Hedgeley Moor and Evesham, especially not from a Lancastrian view, so I liked this perspective.

But the beginning of the story is a mess. Catherine and Thomas need to get together again and for that Clemens invents some unbelievable story lines. The story only picks up after discovering the secret in the ledger. Although I was a bit disappointed as to what the secret contained. It always comes down to the same ‘secret’ in every novel about this period it seems. The pair decides to travel to the north, Catherine once again in the disguise of Kit. We meet some new characters along the way: Jack, John Stump and master Payne.

Although this is part of the Kingmaker series, we don’t actually meet Warwick or any of the other Yorkists. We do get Henry VI and John Beaufort, the earl of Somerset, but they are more secondary characters. Of course, the Rivens are back to haunt Thomas and Catherine. We also learn more about the medical knowledge at the time. The ending is great, but the whole plot felt like an in-between story. There are still two more books to come in this series and I’m curious to see where they will take our two main characters next.

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Argo by Mark Knowles

Jason discovers his parents were overthrown by his uncle Pelias who now occupies the throne. In order to reclaim his rightful position as prince, he sets out on a quest to steal the Golden Fleece from king Aeetes of Colchis. Together with a bunch of so-called Argonauts, he travels by sea and faces some serious life threatening challenges before he will arrive at Colchis.

Jason and the golden fleece is one of those Greek myths not so familiar to me. I was expecting a nice retelling of this adventure and in some ways, this is exactly what you get. We follow Jason and his Argonauts on their sea voyage to Colchis. Stopping on beaches and in forgotten places where the local tribes are a threat. There is no focus on the Godly perspective, although there is a seer on board and Jason seems to hear voices.

There is a whole bunch of Argonauts, which means a lot of names. And I just couldn’t get a hold on who was who. Except those names I knew from other myths such as Herakles, Castor and Pollux of Sparta and Peleus (the father of Achilles). Another thing that bothered me was that every stop formed a challenge. Some tribe that was friendly at first but then becomes hostile. Therefore the story felt repetitive.

I believe I missed a strong female character, as I’m used to in Greek feministic retellings. Such as in ‘A thousand ships‘, ‘Daughters of Sparta‘, ‘The silence of the girls’… Of course, there is Medea. I do find her one of the most fascinating characters in Greek mythology. But she is just a side character in this book. Although I believe she will get more prominent role in the sequel. Yes, there will be a sequel. After more than 500 pages, the story stops abruptly and I am not sure if I want to read another whopper of a book like this. Maybe I do, if I know there will be a focus on Medea.

This doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy ‘Argo‘ at all. There were a lot of likable scenes and it’s a great adventure. I just didn’t have any emotional connection with Jason and all the fights were too similar.

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion.

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Books infested by the plague

Ever since the outbreak of covid, people have been talking about some other major pandemics in history such as the Spanish flu in 1918 and ‘the plague’ that was raging through Europe in the Middle Ages. There are different forms of the plague. The one we usually refer to is the bubonic plague which causes black ‘buboes’ or swollen lymph nodes on the body. In the 14th century there was a huge outbreak of this bubonic plague and it is recorded as the most fatal pandemic ever. This pandemic is therefore also called ‘The Black Death’ or ‘The Great Mortality’. Ever since we went in lockdown, I began reading some historical novels that were set during the plague years (in the 14th century mostly). It soothed me to read about people struggling with a strange disease that is now in the 21st century under control on a global level.

I decided to make a list of historical fiction books around this topic, for everyone who also wants to feel better (or worse, it depends on how you feel when reading about people dying 😅).

World without end by Ken Follett

In World without end we follow four youngsters in medieval Kingsbridge. It’s an epic story set in the 14th century, so off course the plague also arrives in Kingsbridge. One of the characters, Caris, is a nun who tries to make sense of this disease and believes in seperating the sick from the healthy and wearing a cloth before your mouth when tending the sick to not breathe in the same air. But the prior finds these views heretic and this will cost many lives.

This is a huge book with a lot more themes than the plague, but it gives you a sense of how the people tried to make sense of who died and who survived this strange disease.

Read my review about World without end

The last hours by Minette Walters

This is certainly my least favourite novel on this list. The story is about a small village in Dorsetshire where a mysterious disease arrives and lady Anne forbids anyone to leave or enter the town. Not even her husband. The story is set during the first few year of the pandemic and this makes for a nice introduction into how devastating it raged throughout England. But it also heavily focuses on the characters and events happening within the town and I must admit that I was a bit bored with them. There is a sequel which is called ‘The turn of midnight’ and follows the same characters.

Read my review about the last hours

Plague land by S.D. Sykes

The title seems to incline that the plague is heavily featured in this historical mystery and in some way that is true. But actually, it is set a few years after the pandemic but you can still see the effects of it weighing heavily on the people. And on the lord of Somershill, Oswald De Lacy, who was the third son destined to become a monk but after the death of his father and two older brothers he needs to return home to become lord.

The black death was one of the biggest causes of the abolition of serfdom in medieval England. So many people died that there was almost nobody anymore to plough to fields. In fear of starvation, lords began to offer better conditions for workers and even distribute land among farmers.

Read my review of plague land

The last adventures of H. by Sarah Burton

This is the first novel I mention not set in the 14th century. It’s set in 17th century London during some of the most dramatic years in the city’s history. We all know about the devastating Great Fire of 1666, but did you know that in 1665 there was a major bubonic plague epidemic in the heart of London? This plague killed over a quarter of the city’s inhabitants within 18 months. It was the last major outbreak of the plague on English territory. The strange adventures of H. is an entertaining story about a young girl who tries to survive in a world full of men.

Read my review of the strange adventures of H.

A company of liars by Karen Maitland

I thought I had read more books featuring the plague, there is one more that is set in 15th century Italy that I read ages ago but it’s a German book (I read it in the Dutch translation) and not translated to English. So to add a fifth, I decided to go for Karen Maitland’s ‘A company of liars’ with the subtitle ‘a novel of the plague’. I’ve read her other book set in the 14th century, ‘The vanishing witch‘, which takes place after the pandemic. Her novels include dark characters, a bit of magic and a lot of filth.

Do you have any other recommendations featuring the plague?

The catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield has just been kicked from school, again. He decides to already leave his school and takes the cab to New York. In the next three days, he will be wandering through the streets, meeting old friends, a tutor and his sister Phoebe. We learn that Holden has lost a younger brother Allie and that he’s struggling to find his place in the world.

This is the kind of classic that I didn’t know what to expect from. I didn’t understand the title at all, now of course I do. The story is about a seventeen year old teenage boy who experiences a difficult period in life and is forced to leave his school again. He knows his parents will be disappointed and already leaves for New York but without going home.

The language in this story is repetitive and filthy. Holden is an unsympathetic main character. The story also felt very American. And being told through the eyes of a teenage boy, it was not easy for me to empathize. But still, his thoughts, fears and pains felt real in some way. And I can understand that youngsters will identify with Holden’s story.

I can also understand the negative reviews of this book. It’s no literature. The language is a blur at times But I also think there are a lot of symbols in this book. So I’m a bit in between opinions. I am sure that it appeals to a certain generation, but I don’t feel a part of it. I also don’t know what to think about a certain scene where an old tutor from Holden makes a strange move during the night..

For me, it was nice to discover a more readable classic and finish it in a few days. I also feel that I understand the message the author wanted to bring, which is not always the case. I’m glad I read this book, but I won’t reread it I think.

This is book 9/50 for the classics club.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Have you read ‘The catcher in the Rye’? What did you think?

October recap

I don’t know what it is with October but it always feels like the longest month ever. I’ve been wanting to write this recap a few times now, but then I noticed it was still two weeks to go or so. 😅 It’s getting dark real soon, and we got a lot of rain. I’m no autumn person, which makes me think I don’t belong in the book blogging community since everyone seems to enjoy crawling under a blanket with a hot chocolate and a book. I do like that sometimes, but I’m a summer person and I always will be. And summer is still so far away 😢.

Read(ing)

Ah well, I did manage to make time for reading. But after World without end, it wasn’t easy to find my flow again. I even decided to DNF a certain book: ‘Dark queen watching‘ from Paul Doherty. Doherty was an author I’ve been wanting to read for a time and this was one of his Margaret Beaufort mysteries so I thought I could jump right into the story, as I know a lot about the Wars of the Roses. And yes, I could jump right in but I found out I didn’t like it at all. Doherty’s writing is fine, but his story is full of secret organizations wanting to massacre each other, not really knowing why because they have been doing that since the birth of Christ or so. If there is one trope that I really hate it is secret organizations (I’m looking at you Dan Brown) and in this book there was even some useless bloody violence. I’m not a quitter usually, but this time I gave up. But what did I manage to read? Well, I finished 5 books!

I really enjoyed ‘The damask rose’ and ‘Revelation’, I love both series and this were excellent parts. Also, Broken faith was the second book in the Kingmaker series, I did like it but it felt more like an in-between book. The catcher in the rye was an easy to read classic that did make me experience how a torn teenage boy may look at the world.

Number of pages read: 2.219 pages
Number of books finished: 5
Favorite read: Revelation
Centuries visited: 13th century, 15th century, 16th century and 20th century
Countries visited: Ancient Greece, England and America
Currently reading: ‘Love in time of cholera’, my CC Spin result.
Next up: I have no idea yet :).

Reviewed

Blogged

Watched

  • I’ve started Maximilian on Disney + about Emperor Maximilian and Mary of Burgundy
  • In Belgium, we now have our own historical series, which is also available in some countries on Netflix with English subtitles. It’s called ‘Thieves of the wood’ and is set in the 18th century. The main character is Jan De Lichte, some kind of Flemish Robin Hood.

Added to my TBR

Some new work from favourite authors, and some next installments in series I’ve been reading

What was your favourite book in October?

Revelation by C.J. Sansom

1543. In the court of the aging Henry VIII the catholic fraction is again winning sympathy with the king. Gardiner and bishop Bonner are arresting protestants in the streets of London and Cranmer is worrying about his position. In the meantime, the king is looking for a sixth wife. He’s courting Lady Latimer, a friend of the Seymours who was recently widowed.

Matthew Shardlake receives a new case from the court of requests about a boy named Adam Kite who seems to have become mad. People talk he is possessed by the devil but Matthew and his friend Guy don’t believe so. When suddenly one of his fellow lawyers and comrades is brutally murdered, Shardlake and Barak once again are hunting a killer commissioned by Cranmer and the Seymours.

It’s no secret that I love this series. Revelation is the fourth book and in this story the topic of religion is explored. At the end of Henry VIII’s reign protestants and catholics were fighting for power. Bonner is burning protestant heretics, while at the same time the king is hunting a new wife with protestant sympathies… You can feel the unrest in the streets of London through the pages. It’s a great setting.

Shardlake again has two different cases to solve. We have the case of Adam Kite, a protestant boy who is talking about God and constantly praying. Because people believe him mad, he’s placed in the Bedlam hospital for the insane. A few days later, one of Matthew’s lawyer friends is cruelly killed in a fountain. Matthew promises his widow he will find the killer but before he knows he’s at court standing before the archbishop Cranmer and the brothers Seymour. There have been other killings and one of them is linked to Catherine Parr.

There are a few other secondary plot lines such as the relationship between Barak and Tamasin, the friendship between Matthew and Guy and Matthew’s own religious conscience which is once again tested. I did like the different stories, but the resolution around Adam Kite felt too fast and artificial. It seems Sansom especially wanted to introduce Ellen, one of the other inhabitants from the Bedlam hospital, as a character for the coming books. I also believe we will see more of Edward and Thomas Seymour.

Revolution has the disadvantage that it comes after Sovereign, which is still my favourite book from this series. But it is once again a great mystery novel in a phenomenal historical setting. I always like books that feature Catherine Parr, she was so much more than a nursemaid. Highly recommended series, but I suggest you start with the first one ‘Dissolution’.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read this series? If yes, what’s your favourite?

The damask rose by Carol McGrath

Eleanor of Castile is under house arrest together with her father-in-law king Henry III during the Baron’s War. She’s forced to live in poverty and her young daughter Katherine dies of a serious cold. She blames ‘Red’ Gilbert De Clare who switched sides and took her into his custody. Her husband prince Edward is locked up somewhere else but manages to escape. At the battle of Evesham, Simon The Monfort is killed and Gilbert once again declares his loyalties to Henry III. After the war, Eleanor decides to never be dependent on others again and starts to earn lands in her own name. She goes on a crusade to Acre as a princess, but she will return as queen of England.

The damask rose is the second part in McGrath’s she wolves trilogy about three medieval queens of England who weren’t popular with the people and the nobles. I did enjoy ‘The silken rose‘ about Alienor of Provence, so I couldn’t wait to learn more about the next queen called Eleanor. She was the wife and queen of Edward I. It was a love match but with a Baron’s War, a crusade and a lot of their children dying young, the couple did endure much together.

Eleanor wasn’t the loving mother, which makes her a bit of a cold character sometimes, but I could understand why she was afraid to get too close to her children. She lost so many of them and just wasn’t the maternal type. However, I did like Eleanor’s character in this book. She was an engaged queen and trusted her guts to like or dislike the people around her. She starts building up an inheritance of lands, which might have made her unpopular. But I don’t think we can really call her a she-wolf.

The novel isn’t only told from Eleanor’s perspective. We also meet Olwen, a lady herbalist who treats the royal family. She travels with them to Acre to discover new plants and herbals and when she returns she starts to plant new herbal gardens at every royal domain. It was fascinating to read about Eleanor’s intentions to improve the royal residences and their gardens.

Olwen is a fictitious character but I liked her. She offers another insight into the royal court and the politics of the time. Her relationship with both Guillaume and Eugene felt real. Also, Alienor of Provence is still present in this novel. I liked to see how the relationship between the two Eleanor’s progressed. I also got to see another side of Edward I who is often depicted as a ruthless king. McGrath succeeds in building a believable and engaging historical story.

Now I’m definitely looking forward to the third book about Isabella of France, a queen I know much more about than the two Eleanors.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Have you read anything about Eleanor of Castile before? Who’s your favourite queen?

CC spin #28: my result

Last Sunday, the spin number of edition 28 was revealed. And the lucky number is 12! So if you have a look at the list that I made for this challenge, you’ll have figured out by now that my book is….

‘Love in time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez! I believe some people might not yet consider this a classic, but I added some more recent books on my list. I must admit this result scares me, as Marquez is one of those authors I’m afraid of without knowing why specifically.

I just think it’s because I didn’t have luck with other South-American authors I’ve tried? 🤷‍♀️ Also, the English version on Goodreads is said to have only 348 pages, but I remember it being longer? And then I checked to Dutch version and it’s 510 pages! What a difference that is?

Anyway, as it’s a Spanish novel, I’ll read it in the Dutch translation and I hope it will be available in the library (it’s not at the moment) before 12th November, the deadline of this Spin edition.

Have you read this book? Any motivational thoughts?