Blurb from Goodreads
Florentino Ariza is a hopeless romantic who falls passionately for the beautiful Fermina Daza.
Instead Fermina marries a distinguished doctor, while Florentino can only wait silently for her. He can never forget his first and only true love.
Then, fifty-one years, nine months and four days later, Fermina’s husband dies unexpectedly. At last Florentino has another chance to declare his feelings and discovers if a passion that has endured for half a century will remain unrequited.
García Márquez tells a tale that is a rich, fantastic, and humane celebration of love in all its many forms.
“But his examination revealed that he had no fever, no pain anywhere, and that his only concrete feeling was an urgent desire to die. All that was needed was shrewd questioning, first of the patient and then of his mother, to conclude once again that the symptoms of love were the same as those of cholera.”
Who would ever want to be in love??
I’m immensely torn about this book.
I adore the writing… It was magnificent…
Yet I still found myself very much detached from the storyline. And I have this incredibly unsettled feeling in my gut.
This was a beautiful tale of the dark underbelly of love. Of how it twists. Of how it infects. Of how ridiculous it can be. In many ways this is the most satirical book I have ever read…
But it was a little too harsh for my sensibilities. I guess I wanted a little more softness but this is not that kind of book. I’m so confused about how to rate it. My head says that the quality of storyline and writing means that this should be a four or a four and a half star rating, no questions asked…
But my heart didn’t love it…
There were aspects of the book that made me feel distinctly uncomfortable even though I understand the morally ambiguous nature of these parts of the storyline (and frankly downright reprehensible events) were another way to twist this notion of love into this sickened, blackened state…
But I wondered was it too far? Too much?
Mild thematic spoilers ahead
It’s never easy to read about rape or paedophilia and this book treated these occurrences so casually.
And it was much too casually for me.
In my opinion there was a lot of reinforcing of negative aspects of rape culture and beautiful writing shouldn’t really be used to camouflage such.
No should always mean no.
It shouldn’t mean obsess about me for your entire life until you break me down and I agree to love you back.
It shouldn’t mean come into my cabin and make a man of me… Men can be raped too.
It also shouldn’t mean please just jump me from behind and start raping me and then I’ll somehow enjoy it and hope for it to happen again…
Rape is not love making.
Rape is rape.
It is assault.
It is a most heinous criminal act.
I don’t wish to read about it in this sort of manner.
And then there was the paedophilic aspect… An old man and a teenage girl under his care written in a non-judgemental fashion. Because that’s not screwed up at all?!?
I think I’m just going to rate this two stars because of this unsettled feeling I have but I reserve the right to come back and change my mind the more I sit and think about this book.
And then eight months later I have decided to lower it to one star because the feelings and memories I have about this book are all negative. Just because a book is written beautifully or is deemed a modern classic does not mean it can somehow excuse the problematic nature of the storyline.
Look I get it. Life is ugly. There are so many horrible facets to existence. So much darkness in humanity. And authors should 100% be able to write about such aspects… But I believe that calling something literary does not mean that a book should reinforce rape culture. Write about rape culture, explore its every detail… but do not excuse it in the name of love. Make different stylistic choices with your narrative about how these problematic attitudes are portrayed and this book could have been phenomenal.
But choices were made. Rape to me was somehow idealised. And that isn’t okay. I will not support a book like that.