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.
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