Last weekend I found myself complete unprepared for book club. It was Sunday afternoon, and I had read maybe 40/348 pages of Gabriel García Marquez’s Love In The Time Of Cholera for the following evening. WineGuy was watching football on TV. Wizard watched, too. Moose was off playing outside, and Wild Thing had homework to do. I coaxed WT into the playroom for him to work and for me to sit and read. After some stomping and fuming, WT sat down and did some work. Before I knew it, I was another 100 pages into the book.
By the time WT’s attention span gave out, Moose came in looking for some attention and something to do. I invited him to join me on the playroom couch, to read and bask in the late afternoon sun. Moose swiped one of WT’s library books and settled in next to me. We sat quietly together for over an hour reading. Occasionally, I looked up from my tome to find my little boy contorted into some comfy reading position, his attention rapt – and wrapped – in the adventures of Geronimo Stilton. It was a priceless moment of solitude.
Cholera is another tour-de-force of Latin American literature. GGM’s brutal yet beautiful love story is set against a ravaging plague at the end of the 19th Century. He equates love with sickness and examines the course of love over the lifetimes of the main characters. As usual, GGM named his characters with a sly, wry wit. There is the Urbino family, whose sons are named after Roman philosophers (Juvenal, Marco Aurelio). There is the Loayza family, whose pope-named sons (Leo XII) are anything but pious. The main character, Florentino Ariza, writes poems as flowery as his name. His lifelong love, Fermina Daza, has an iron will equivalent to her name. Florentino carries on affairs with various widows – Nazaret (Nazareth, the first), Ausencia (absence), Prudencia (Prudence) – all of whom are aptly named.
Reading the book is a brave undertaking because the prose is so dense. It’s not a long book, but GGM’s intricately braided story requires your full attention from beginning to end. I still wish I would have read it in original text; it would have taken me two months to do so because, even at its most fluent, my Spanish was never that lofty. If you have the time and the dedication, put Love In The Time Of Cholera on your reading list.