Love in the Time of Cholera
Gabriel Garcia Marquez
1985

First off, whatever you do, do NOT watch the movie. Please.

Garcia Marquez’ reflection on love and heartache is, with his Hundred Years of Solitude, the Nobel prize-winner’s best-known work and a classic of modern literature. Less ‘magical realist’ than his Hundred Years of Solitude, it is a book known more for its mastery of language, the depth and beauty of its storytelling than for the story itself.

The plot-line itself is a simple one: woman has one great passionate love, but marries instead the good man who provides for stability and social sanction. The rejected lover vows to never love another, to wait his turn, to win her over in the end. For some 50 years, lives are lived, the great romance always simmering below the surface. And then? Love eternal and wise, love adolescent and inspired; love as inspiration and love as daily practice of living together; fidelity and infidelity, heartache, life choices, and the perils of all paths. We all know the drill.

Doesn’t sound especially exciting. Doesn’t sound new or fresh or even particularly engaging. But this is Garcia Marquez’ brilliance – to take a story that in any other hands would be just another soap opera, to write about love as something more that romance, eros, heartache. This is a book to be savoured for its language, its poetry, and the way that only a master of language can make philosophy and art from the most common, the most overdone of storylines. Read it and understand the difference between romance and love. Read it and understand the difference between reminiscence and memory. Read it and understand the difference between life and living.

And read it and understand this – you don’t read a story by Marquez. You read Marquez.

Advertisements