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.
Have you read anything by Marquez?