Found my review of this from way back when. ‘Stunning. Like tumbling into a bath of soapy suds or one of rose petals. Utterly magnificent. What a spellbinding web he weaves’. Hark at me! Was clearly in full romantic mode at the time, then…
It’s always curious when one author can summon up such different reactions to their written word. Will return to “One Hundred Years” in due course, when fully expect to go against the grain and upset the converted by admitting to have missed the point altogether, and to not sharing a single shred of the unfettered enthusiasm that for some makes that particular work a Top Favourite of all time – and yet I really adored this book (and thank goodness I read it first, as would never have had the courage post “Solitude”).
Casting back to the time of reading, the bath water has not run cold – all those woozy feelings of high emotion are still there, and I swear that every time almonds come up into conversation (admittedly, not on a daily basis), I have one of those Proustian Madeleine moments on this book’s behalf, for it begins with the memorable first liner, “It was inevitable: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love”. Amorousness ‘in the time of’ does go completely against the grain, admittedly, for the true romantic would surely pine endlessly and hopelessly for his one true love and his unreciprocated yearnings would result only in the finest feelings. Not so here! It may be that Florentino Ariza “had not stopped thinking of her for a single moment since Fermina Daza had rejected him out of hand after a long and troubled love affair fifty-one years, nine months, and four days ago”, but that doesn’t seem to stop him from clocking up a distinctly virile list of over 500 conquests while he is carrying that torch… Magic realism move over, that’s a bit of a push even for your regular Don Juans in this day and age…
Anyway, it’s a right old romp, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. The central theme of love as a plague runs rife throughout, but I surely can’t be the only person to have faintly worried that Florentino would be caught out and infected by a bit more than just his relentless passion for Fermina??? “Be careful, Don Floro, that looks like (a nasty dose of) cholera”.
Don’t know if you have seen the 2007 film, meantimes. Javier should never have touched it with a bargepole – how can you hope to successfully translate a story that spans from practical adolescence to wrinkly old age and keep the same actors without the make-up department being set an impossible task? Some things just get lost in translation, and I think it was misguided to attempt to transform these well-penned words to the big screen. Have to agree with Evan Williams’s review on Rotten Tomatoes that “if further proof were needed of my dispiriting theory that the best novels rarely make the best films, it is to be found, richly scented and sumptuously packaged, in Love in the Time of Cholera.” Sorry, Mr N, I have to agree in this instance.
Read in 2010.
Rating : 10/10