I did it. I really and truly finally did it. Last night I forsook all of my house-wifely obligations (well – except I did put away dinner left overs and washed a couple of dishes) and I finally finished Garcia Marquez’s Love in the Time of Cholera.
I’m not sure I’m competent to actually comment on this book. I felt lost in the richness of the language, the complexity of the timeline, and the intricacies of the characters. Lost in a good way – like wandering through a daydream, or ambling down the street in France where no one speaks English. The book was sweet, it was sour, it was disgusting, it was enthralling – it had all the rich complexity of the best chocolate or coffee you can imagine.
Its rich and succulent reading, every sentence supersaturated with literary goodness.
Don’t expect a linear story; break away from the traditional novel progression. The beginning is really the beginning of the end – while the middle is actually the beginning. The end is really just the beginning of a chapter that isn’t written – or maybe a novel that isn’t written.
Plan to be lost in a cultural and historical place you don’t full understand. The novel spans approximately 50 years of the Caribbean-coast culture of South America. The politics are strange. The social strata keep shifting. The familial relations aren’t quite clear. Important political events like revolutions are mentioned as common knowledge – but I confess my South American history is poor at best. Non-existent would be more accurate. It worried me for a while, but it turned out that understanding the Liberals and the Conservatives and the countless revolutions wasn’t really necessary to the story.
At the heart, the seed that blossomed into this magnificent flower of a novel, is a simple love story. A story about a love that waited 50 years, faced rejection, humiliation, anger, disappointment, despair, uncertainty, and a million other trials to finally achieve its goal. Its about different kinds of love – sanctified love, passionate love, romantic love, common-sense love, parent/child love, about love that endures, and love that passes away quickly. Its about the love that grows and flowers between two people where there was never a real romantic, chemical spark, and about a love-at-first sight adoration that just won’t go away.
Its about the symptoms of love, that look astounding similar to cholera.
The symptoms of cholera, you ask – what are they? Well. Here’s your educational moment: diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, dehydration, irritability, lethargy, dry mouth, sunken eyes, extreme thirst, low blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, muscle cramps, shock, fever, extreme drowsiness, convulsions, coma & death. I guess death isn’t a symptom – call it the end result.
Evidently I’ve never really been in love, because none of that sounds familiar to me. I don’t recall my husband feeling that way at any point in time I’ve known him, either. I wonder what that means…
Okay, random medical facts aside, the book is deep and heady – like a rich malt beer or complex red wine. It fills you up, so you finish the book feeling satiated instead of starving for more. Oh, you’ll want another good meal soon, but for the time being you just can’t contain any more words.
My recommendation is to read this book – read it slowly and absorb every word. Be prepared to be startled, shocked, angered, confused… be prepared to take a while, don’t rush through this to get on to something better. This is the something better.
Up next? I haven’t a clue. We’ll just have to wait and see!