This one has been on my reading list for years and has been recommended by numerous fellow bookworms. Now that I can scratch it off the TBR list.. sorry to say - it didn't exactly blow me away.
This book takes place in a small Caribbean town in the late 18th - early 19th century and is primarily the story of Florentino Ariza, a postal employee who, in an instant, falls madly in love with Fermina Daza after delivering a letter to her father. At that moment he professes to himself that he will love Fermina for the rest of his life and over time he is able to woo Fermina and convince her that she is in love with him as well. Her father does not approve of the match. He politely asks Florentino to end the relationship but when that doesn't work, he takes Fermina and moves to another country. Florentino vows that his love will not be thwarted and waits for Fermina's return. They secretly correspond over the years until one day Fermina writes that she and her father are returning to town. They run into each other in the street market after she returns - he's ecstatic, she realizes she's over him and tells him so. She goes on to meet a wealthy, handsome doctor who woos and marries her (this time approved by her father). Florentino remains convinced of his destiny with Fermina for over 50 years, appeasing his physical needs with nearly 700 women, all of whom he records in a journal, tallying and noting the details of each liaison. On the day of Fermina's husband's funeral, Florentino decides the time is right to once again profess his undying love. As you can imagine, Fermina was not impressed with his timing at all, what with her in mourning and all!
Marquez is a talented writer as far as his way with words, the way he describes things. His talent with imagery makes the environments in the book nearly tactile. I also appreciated Marquez's subtle humor:
Florentino Ariza’s grandfather, an old homeopathic practitioner… was also alarmed at first by the patient’s condition, because he had the weak pulse, the hoarse breathing, and the pale perspiration of a dying man. But his examination revealed 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.
It was just the plot itself that fell short for me. It started out well enough but then I started to feel it dragging too much, just too much rambling and bizarre behavior between the characters, some that's not explained all that well.
To be honest, reading this book kept making "Don't Stand So Close To Me' by The Police run through my mind.
Hearing other people talk about this book, I was always under the impression that this was suppose to be the ultimate, epic love story. Reading it myself, I did not see a mutual love story as much as a story about a stalker type who can't take no for an answer. At least he wasn't the dangerous kind though. Just the harmless, annoying type that couldn't take a hint = - P But maybe it's also a case of Fermina not really knowing what she wants either?
I will give props to the movie version of this novel though - talk about some amazing cinematography! Benjamin Bratt plays Dr. Juvenal Urbino, the wealthy, uber-hot doctor who snaps up Fermina up as his wife. The scene of their wedding night alone --- OMG, if I was Fermina, I sure as hell would have been certain I made the right choice lol.
L-R: Javier Bardem as Florentino, Fernanda Montenegro as Fermina
I also loved that one of my favorite Latin singers, Shakira, was all over the soundtrack, writing and performing some killer songs, such as Hay Amores. (I think I spotted her in the film as well.) If you think all she's capable of is catchy pop & dance tracks, you need to hear this soundtrack.
And thank you, Mr. Marquez, for teaching me a new word: Gerontophobia - the morbid dislike or fear of the elderly! LOL