Gabriel García Márquez – Love in the Time of Cholera
Compared to One Hundred Years of Solitude, this book has a much lighter feel. It is almost like a farce at times, though a little more jaded. A a mix of bemused weariness with a touch of nostalgia might be a better description. The book’s lack of epic drama, heartbreak, and tragedy stands in intentional contrast to its title. Marquez had plenty of gray hairs by the time he wrote this book, and he looks on the younger characters’ passions with a bit of an “I remember those times, but don’t always miss them” kind of smile. In line with Márquez’s famous magical realist style, lovesickness in this book is sometimes literal, manifesting itself as a physical illness with symptoms similar to cholera.
The main characters are a young couple who part before they can marry, and a young doctor who the woman meets afterwards and has a loving, mostly happy marriage with. Fifty years later, after the doctor/husband passes away, the former couple, now elderly, meet again. He claims to have stayed loyal to her all that time, but this turns out not be true—and how.
Much of the book recounts the various romantic foibles the three had throughout their lives, some serious and some not, with a mix of amusement and wistfulness. A particularly amusing character is a parrot who taunts the doctor. An excellent example of Márquez’s brand of magical realism, the parrot sometimes talks as though he understands what the doctor is saying and is capable of holding human-level conversation, but other times seems like an ordinary bird.