Friday, July 24, 2009

My review of "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

"Forever," he said.

That's how long it felt that I'd been reading this book!

I purchased the book about a year ago on Oprah's recommendation (I don't actually watch Oprah, but her book club is renowned) and attempted to read it then. I only got to page three and decided it would be best to put it aside and try again at some other time. So, the book sat on my end table for the last year. That is until I caught part of the movie and was intrigued.

My interest in this book was actually piqued long before Oprah, when I had seen it featured in the movie Serendipity, where John Cusack runs around New York for years searching every copy of the book he can find for a woman's phone number. I had originally thought the book title was a joke, only made for the movie (yes, I've probably spent the better part of the last thirty plus years under a rock - I mean, really, who would put love and cholera in the same thought?). When I realized it was an actual book, I put it on my mental to do list (anything featured in a John Cusack movie where the dialogues are almost always quirky and the soundtracks are awesome, should be all right with me).

Now, having finished it (finally), I understand the comparison. If one is suffering from a broken heart or unrequited love, there is a general sense of unwell at times that mimics the symptoms of cholera and where coma or death may be preferable to the loss of a great love (at least it seems that way at the time, but in reality it's not truly that bad - most of the time). We should be able to pick up the pieces and move on, right? Well, this poor man hangs on to his hopes for over five decades! I just wanted to take this fictional man and give him a good shake and tell him to get over it already; move on!

The book drags through descriptions of floral and fauna that I'm unfamiliar with, also, which made it difficult for me to get through as I typically rely on my very vivid imagination to bring life to the books I read. This made for slow going where I would have preferred the three week long ride on the back of a mule with sores from sitting on said mule rather than reading another page. But I plod on in any event, determined not to quit.

It also seems to jump from present to past to future so quickly that I found myself rereading passages in order to figure out where in time I actually was and still not really able to get it straight (though, some days, this happens in my own life, so it may just be a genetic defect). The flow from one character point of view to another, though, was done smoothly and left little confusion.

The upside of the book was that love is possible at any age, although, perhaps better left to the septuagenarians that have lived long enough to experience and appreciate the complexities of life and love, in all its forms.

In the end, I'm not left wishing for more as (in my humble opinion) good books often make me feel. I was glad to see it come to an end and not left wondering what would happen to the characters next. Then again, if I'd had access to the picture book version, I may have been left with warmer, fuzzier feelings. And, I wouldn't necessarily recommend not reading it, just be prepared with your copy of the comprehensive guide to the wilderness and lifestyle of late nineteenth/early twentieth century Caribbean living, complete with pictures, or any such similar reference. For me, I'm off the watch the movie from beginning to end in order to achieve the visual component I was lacking but am able to see through someone else's (and more superior to mine, obviously) vision.

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