Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Love in the Time of Cholera was written by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a Colombian author, and originally published in Spanish in 1985 and since translated into English.

The story is set on the Caribbean coast of South America and sprawls across a period of 50 years spanning the late 19th and early 20th Century. The language is dense and the tale is complex with a host of characters. On the surface, this is a story of a long running love affair – bordering on the obsessive – between a somewhat indifferent woman and her ardent suitor.

Underneath the surface, this is a story of social constraints, of class structure and racism, of shifting values and sexual morals, of contradictions, of obsessive love, of the different faces of affection and desire, of disease and decay and, above all, it is a tale about the ageing process and mortality.

What I liked about the story: I liked the density of it, the complex moral questions it posed, the depth and scale, the lovely language, the settings, the vivid descriptions and, I have to admit, the eventual happy ending.

What I didn’t like about the story: It was, in my opinion, too long. I kept reading only to find out what happened in the end and found the early middle section rather slow. So, I confess, I would have enjoyed the book far more if it was much shorter and it came alive for me in the final third. I was not convinced by the main female character who failed to generate much sympathy in me and I didn’t really understand the hero’s preoccupation with her. (He met many more far more interesting women as the book progressed and I wanted to shake him and shout at him “Ditch the bitch!”.)

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