Challenges: TBR 2008
Published: Columbia – 1985, U.S. – 1988 (Penguin Books: 1989)
# of pages: 348
Quote: “. . . she felt an irresistable longing to begin life with him over again so that they could say what they had left unsaid and do everything right that they had done badly in the past.” -Fermina Daza p. 47
Personally, I didn’t enjoy this book. I couldn’t get over how disgusting Florentino Ariza was, sleeping with 622 women, causing the deaths of 2 women, and seducing his 12 year old relative whose parents had entrusted her to him as a guardian! All of the other women at least made informed decisions to sleep with Florentino. Many of them were widows who chose that way of life as a form of freedom from their previous lives. But America Vicuna was so young and innocent, she hadn’t even lived life or had any experience to base decisions on before her grandfather figure is playing “games” with her by taking off her clothes and touching her. After that I had no respect for him and I thought his love for Fermina Daza was tainted, if it was love at all. I don’t think it’s true love when you sleep with that many women and seduce children in secret while waiting for the one woman you love. I felt like Florentino was mentally unstable and his “love” for Fermina was more like a crazy obsession. Also, Fermina was the only woman he couldn’t sleep with, so that also might have had something to do with his obsession.
However, the book does make you think about how you define love. Most books express love in traditional ways and while you might agree or disagree, you don’t typically think of what love is for you. Love in the time of Cholera does this. Also, the book is written in an interesting order of time. It would be neat to go back and try to order it chronologically and see if that changes my concept of the marriage between Dr. Urbino and Fermina Daza. They were interesting, sometimes I felt like they did have a happy marriage and other times I thought, how can she possibly look back and say that she had a happy marriage when it seems like they have more marital problems that most people! I also wonder how culture plays into the book. Would a reader in South America or the Caribbean feel like Florentino’s concept of love is normal or acceptable? Maybe I feel like it is disgusting to sleep with so many women, including women much older and MUCH younger, but people in that culture see it as a positive thing. And maybe in their culture the marriage between the Urbinos is better than most. And the end was as perfect as it could be, I love the title of the book.
I am interested to hear what other people think about this novel. I know a lot of people like it a lot. Is it because they feel like it is a story of true love or because of the original way of telling the story or the way of looking at life and death or is it something else? I would love to hear what you thought of this book!