‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Book Review

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.

My Review

“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.

One star.

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15 thoughts on “‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez – Book Review

  1. Love in the Time of Cholera happens to be my 500th read. Your review reminds me of the roller coaster ride I had with the book. Garcia Marquez’ prose was beautiful but I do agree, the subject was kind of perplexing. I am glad that you’re very open about your opinions of books and you don’t necessarily “go with the flow”. I didn’t love this book but I just felt the obligation to read it as it is one of the must-reads in literature.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh 100% the prose was sumptuous. I could have lost myself to the language. But content… Nope! I just couldn’t forgive some of the plot choices because this book was only written at some stage during the 80s which to me is incredibly recent (in the grand scheme of things) and therefore unforgivable. But I’m definitely going to read more by Márquez to see if I could get on better with another title.

      I love that you know exactly what number this book is on your list of books read! I’ve been reading far too long to ever be sure as I know I’ve forgotten many titles over the years (prior to becoming religiously active on Goodreads!)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. LMAO honestly with a quote like that from the book who the hell ever would believe this was a wonderful love story and who would ever want to fall in love!?!?!? I remember reading this so long ago and I totally agree with you about the beautiful writing. There’s no doubt Marquez can write wonderfully. That said, I will admit that I don’t remember much about the rest of the story. Definitely think that I need to re-read this but also… Kinda don’t want to. I’m a little sad that I haven’t jammed with Marquez’ books (especially not One Hundred Years of Solitude) since they’re so acclaimed. Fantastic review, Emer! 🙌🏽

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I still need to read one hundred years of solitude… I mean lol if you think this negative review of cholera has turned me off that, I’m almost more pumped….. I’m a strange creature. Revel in reading books I don’t like….. 🙈🙈🙈
      But yes, his writing is glorious. I just wish he had made some slight narrative alterations and this would have been amazing. Thanks Dini :))))

      Like

  3. I don’t like books like this. I hate reading about rape in books or seeing it on tv. I hate that everyone loves the Game of Thrones tv series and how in the first episode Daenarys is over there looking like she is getting raped! I hated it. It made me uncomfortable. That didn’t even happen in the books! Why did they have to change it?? It’s sad that no matter how many people stick up and say it’s wrong there is still an evil in people that will still have people reading or watching about it. Makes me sick! *end of rant* (sorry this went far off from being about the book, lol.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh you should rant more!!!! I watched about five minutes of the first episode of GoT and knew it wasn’t for me. And I get you, rape shouldn’t be sensationalised or just used as a dramatic plot device. It has to feel authentic to the story and be dealt with in a sensitive manner. Too much of the time it’s used to just demean women as a cheap plot point and I’m like nope, not here for that!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I remember reading this for a book club a while back and everyone else seemed to LOVE IT and I couldn’t understand where the hell they were coming from. On my way there I was getting pumped to rip it to shreds with everyone and then they were all just so positive about it… like it’s some ultimate ‘love story’ 🙈 As always, your honesty is a gem in the rough!! Fab review Emer! Jen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh I’m sad I wasn’t there at that meeting! I love being the dissenting voice 🙈😂🙈😂🙈😂 Honestly though, I can’t with people. Just because it’s beautifully written does not excuse the problematic approach to the rape culture element of this novel.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I completely understand your rating because you’re right rape should NEVER be idolized or framed as something such as love making and it kind of disgusts me to read that that’s what it was framed as. This was a brilliant well thought out review my love.

    Liked by 1 person

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