Book 31: Colombia (Spanish) – El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera = Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ)

It was inevitable: the smell of bitter almond always reminded him of the fate of unfortunate loves. Doctor Juvenal Urbino sensed it, as soon as he came into the house still in semi-darkness, to which he had come urgently to help care for a case which for him had ceased to be urgent for many years now. The West Indian refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, war-wounded, photographer of children and his most compassionate adversary in chess, had succeeded in achieving safety from the torments of memory with an aromatic substance of golden cyanide.

[my translation]


Having read One Hundred Years of Solitude a long time ago, as my first discovery of magical realism, that was out as a choice this time, but I felt Colombia’s greatest writer still deserved a place here. (The Nobel laureate in fact passed away just as I finished it). I was put off reading Love in the Time of Cholera until now by the title (the second part, of course!), but cholera hardly gets a mention – it’s really about that other disease, love – love in its many forms and constancies. It’s really a beautiful study of the human condition and its strangeness, yes magic – although the magical realism is quite lightly brushed in this book. After a transport of romantic delight (such as any lover would love to be able to deliver to his loved one), it ends in a perfect sigh of contentment. A lovely, beautifully-written novel.


GARCÍA MÁRQUEZ, Gabriel  (1927 – 2014), El Amor en los Tiempos del Cólera, NY, Vintage Español, 2003 (originally published in Colombia  in Spanish, 1985), ISBN 978-0-307-38726-4

1st November 2015

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