In their youth, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. When Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well-born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs–yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last, and Florentino purposefully attends the funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.
As evocative as ever, as passionate and gorgeous a book as any I’ve enjoyed, this captivated me entirely. By turns, erotic and delightful in it’s language and observations, rich with fat chunks of bitter truth and so lovingly realised that there were sections that made me ache to read them. It manages to pack in massive amounts of story over a long period of time, flitting back and forth in such a way that when the story reaches it’s climax, you’re so enamoured of the characters and their stories, that you read it with a sense of sadness that it’s close to the ending.
Marquez is glorious, although more realistic than the last book I read of his, it’s still threaded with silvery tracts and bursts of literary colour:
“But when a woman decides to sleep with a man, there is no wall she will not scale, no fortress she will not destroy, no moral consideration she will not ignore at its very root: there is no God worth worrying about.”
“The world is divided into those who screw and those who do not. He distrusted those who did not—when they strayed from the straight and narrow it was something so unusual for them that they bragged about love as if they had just invented it.”
“She discovered with great delight that one does not love one’s children just because they are one’s children but because of the friendship formed while raising them.”
So much of the book throws out insights whilst sourced in beautiful descriptions and an education on the history, politics and culture of Colombia. Marquez writes with clarity and power, if all writing is seduction then Marquez is a Casanova. I was drunk on it’s words, and I am both richer and poorer for having finished it. I want to learn Spanish so that I can read it in the original text, there’s a delicious madness that overcame me when the book was over.
Go read it, then wonder why there isn’t more of this work in the world.