Hoping for some light reading? Love in the Time of Cholera is not it. After four hours of reading in a waiting room, I had only made it through the first 30 pages. This wordy behemoth is worth your time, because it will be hard to put it down, I promise.
This book is about the love triangle between Dr. Juvenal Urbino, Fermina Daza, and Florentino Ariza. If you’re hoping for a bodice-ripping novel of love between the former two, doomed young lovers whose passion cannot be quelled even by Fermina’s advantageous marriage to the handsome and socially lucrative Doctor, give up. Don’t read this book.
The truth is, about halfway in, I hated all the characters. Intrigued by them, yes. Rooting for them? Possibly. Liking them? Definitely not. They were in all ways human, consumed by egos, faults, obsessions, and prejudices. As the book shifts narrators to follow each of them for a different “time” in their life, you gain sympathy and then throw it away. These pathetic humans can’t seem to get their lives in order to be happy for a single moment, it seems.
That’s what makes the book so absolutely real. Any other telling would be flimsy, forgettable. But the horrors of these three, their terrible decisions and their gloomy outlooks make them tragically vibrant. No spoilers, but the ending will take your breath away.
I want those avowed fans of the British ladies – Austen, Bronte – to read this book. Tear yourself away from the heath to enter the land of parrots, cholera, almond trees, and unlikely love.