Love in the Time of Cholera

Deja que el tiempo pase y ya veremos lo que trae.
(Let time pass and we will see what it brings.) 

Love in the Time of Cholera, written by Nobel Prize winning Gabriel García Márquez, is a love story that spans more than 51 years, 9 months, and 4 days. Actually, that was how much time passed before Florentino Ariza repeated his vow of eternal fidelilty and everlasting love to Fermina Daza, as he had done when they were both young. This book is the most passionate and intoxicating book I have ever read. The language is sumptuous, and García Márquez seduces his readers. 

But don’t be fooled…it is not a simple love story. It is a complex, multi-layered look at love and obsession, reality and illusion in relationships, and the timelessness of love–how it does and does not change over a lifetime. He explores, but never defines, Love.

I read this book after reading an excellent review by my friend, Nymeth, at Things Mean A Lot. She describes the book eloquently and with great insight, so I urge you to read her review, also. I agree with her when she explains that not everyone will like this book. But I loved it.

Part of the reason for that is because of my complete immersion into a culture and language of Latin America when I was an exchange student. My experiences with adjusting to and absorbing the intricacies of a Latin culture helped me to visualize his beautifully described settings, to understand much of the background of his characters, to appreciate the passion of his language, and to accept the magical, mythical elements in his writing. I was also aware that I was reading a book in translation. Spanish is a richly expressive and passionate language, but I was incredibly impressed with translator, Edith Grossman’s, brilliant work.

The film version of Love in the Time of Cholera is being released in November, and I am very curious about how they will handle the many layers of this story. I’m looking forward to seeing the visual interpretation, but part of me wonders how the film can ever measure up to the book. I hope it’s one of those times when I love both the book and the movie.

As he passed the sewing room, he saw through the window an older woman and a young girl sitting very close together on two chairs and following the reading in the book that the woman held open on her lap. It seemed a strange sight: the daughter teaching the mother to read. His interpretation was incorrect only in part, because the woman was the aunt, not the mother, although she had raised her as if she were her own. The lesson was not interrupted, but the girl raised her eyes to see who was passing by the window, and that casual glance was the beginning of a cataclysm of love that still had not ended half a century later. 


15 thoughts on “Love in the Time of Cholera

  1. Nymeth

    Ah Robin, knowing that you loved it makes me so happy! And thank you for your kind words about me!

    I can imagine how your experience in Latin American made this book even more meaninfgul. There is something about that place that just grips a part of you and never lets go, isn’t there? The only country I actually know is Brazil, and only a small part of it, but the whole continent draws me a lot. I need to visit Argentina, Chile, Peru… When I’m over there, the things that cross my mind are things that I would never think of in a different environment. No wonder their writers are so unique.

    I’m a bit aprehensive about the upcoming movie, but we’ll see. I don’t think a movie can even begin to include all the complexities of this story, but hopefully it will give people a taste of this book and point them in its direction.


  2. iliana

    Great review Robin. This is one of my most favorite books. I love it. Unfortunately, I’m not looking forward to the movie version. I like some of the actors that are going to be in the film but I just have this strong sense of what it’s all supposed to be like that I just know it can’t compare to a movie.


  3. tanabata

    Lovely review Robin! Unfortunately I didn’t fall in love with it as you did, although I wish I could’ve. My review went up today and I just added a link to yours, hope you don’t mind.


  4. Petunia

    Robin, you write the most inviting reviews. Your love of the books you read comes through in your writing so well. I enjoyed 100 Years of Solitude. I’ll add this to the TBR list.


  5. Robin

    Nymeth, you said it very well–there definitely is something about Latin America (in my case, Argentina) that grips you and never lets go. It’s a culture with a huge heart and an equally huge imagintion.

    Thanks, Iliana. I just don’t know how the movie can do justice to the depth of the book. However, Garcia Marquez’s writing is incredibly visual, and he has a wonderful sense of drama and timing that would lend itself well to film. So maybe…

    Hi Tanabata, I enjoyed your review and it gave me a lot to think about. I agreed with some of your concerns about the book, but I think my experience of living in Latin America definitely helped me to understand it all in a different context. We each bring such different backgrounds and experiences to what we read, and it makes such a difference in how we understand or like a book. That’s what is so interesting to me about reading all these book reviews!

    Bookfool, I haven’t read 100 Years of Solitude yet, but now I’m really anxious to try it (again). I started it once a long, long time ago, and couldn’t get into it. I’ll bet that won’t happen this time.

    MyUtopia, I’ll be very interested in your response to this book when you read it. Like Tanabata said, people seem to love it or hate it.

    Gentle Reader, I’m glad you enjoyed this book, too. I felt that Garcia Marquez has a huge heart, an amazing imagination, and a lot of courage.

    Thanks, Petunia. I liked this one so much that I’m really looking forward to reading 100 Years of Solitude. Another one that’s been sitting on my shelf for awhile is his The General in His Labyrinth.


  6. Trish

    Wow, this sounds great! I just got finished reading One Hundred Years of Solitude, and while I didn’t love it, my interest is certainly piqued. Nymeth recently reviewed another one of his books, but I think I’ll put Love in the Time of Cholera on my TBR.


  7. Lelia

    Really, into a movie? I started this one [yrs ago] when it was released & never finished it. Perhaps I should give it another ‘go’.


  8. Robin

    Hi Trish, I’ve put 100 Years of Solitude on my TBR list, but will have to wait until my husband finishes it. It’s on the top of his reading pile.

    Hi Lelia, you might react quite differently to the book now since it’s been awhile since you started it and set it aside. I hope they’ll do a good job with the movie…I just don’t know what to expect.


  9. Matt

    Very well-put Robin. Like I have said previously, this one is so close to my heart. It’s so poignant but beautiful. It’s one of the few books that I keep going back to re-read.


  10. Chris

    Wow, “The most passionate and intoxicating book I have ever read.”

    Well now I have to read it! 🙂 After both you and Nymeth’s wonderful reviews, I’m bumping this one to the top of the list. I’ll have to add it to my Classics Challenge list. It sounds wonderful. Don’t you just love it when you come across books like this that you just absolutely fall in love with…


  11. jenclair

    I’ve never read Love in the Time of Cholera, but your review has finally interested me enough to put it on my list. Thanks!


  12. Robin

    Matt, it’s now a favorite of mine, too.

    Chris and JenClair,
    Like Nymeth said, most people either love it or hate it. You should also read Tanabata’s review, if you haven’t already, because it gives a different perspective on the book and discusses some of the parts of the story that were disturbing.



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