#49 ~ Love in the Time of Cholera

November 26, 2007 at 1:51 am | Posted in Books, Culture, Family, Religion | 2 Comments
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Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

This novel tells the story of two young lovers who, in their time and circumstance, carried out a love affair almost completely through the use of letters and telegrams – at first because Florentino Ariza was of a perceived lower class than his love Fermina Daza and then because her father forbade the coupling. As it turned out, despite the fact that she agreed to marry Florentino, Fermina was in love with the concept of their distant relationship, not with Florentino himself. She broke off their engagement and ended up marrying a wealthy, well-respected doctor, Juvenal Urbino. From that time forward, Florentino lives in wait of Doctor Urbino’s death so that his love for Fermina can finally be returned.

On the outset, it might feel right to pity Florentino. After all, the love of his life went on to have what appeared to be a happy marriage. He did not, however, remain a virgin as he pined hopelessly for Fermina. Although he could tell you the number of years, months, days, and hours since Fermina broke off their relationship, he enjoyed other women shamelessly. His woman range from virgins to lonely widows in need of a sexual release. The one woman in his life with whom he doesn’t have sex ends up his best friend – and their relationship wasn’t solely platonic because of any decision he made.

I have not read anything by Garcia Marquez until I read Love in the Time of Cholera. Without kn0wing what to expect, I was looking forward to getting started. I was not disappointed. What I enjoyed the most about it is that the time, the place, and the characters are so very different from anything I’ve read this year. This story was also told at a much different manner and pace from other books this year. It was a very interesting read.

What intrigued me most about this book was the reason why cholera was mentioned in the title. Yes, there was much illness from cholera in the book. Doctor Juvenal Urbino’s physician father in fact dies of the disease, and it is important to the last passage of the book. In the end, I found that this title, along with much of the book, provided a little too much information about people and their hygiene. It kept me grounded within the reality of the narrative.

As a side note, I mentioned in my last review that I didn’t think that it worked for the main character not to be named in The Ice Queen. By contrast, the characters in this book were almost always (I counted two exceptions – one each for Fermina and Florentino) referred to using their full names. This literary devise worked very well here as it distanced the reader from the characters with this formality much in the same way that cultural formalities kept Florentino from Fermina.

To buy this novel, click here.

#48 ~ The Ice Queen

November 14, 2007 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Books, Childhood Memories, Family, Sexual Identity | 1 Comment
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The Ice Queen: A Novel by Alice Hoffman

Something I’ve never really warmed up to in general fiction is not naming the narrator. I suppose that author’s have their reasons. I might by it in circumstances where the reader could be the narrator or “anyone” could be the narrator. This is not the case in The Ice Queen, the story of a young woman who is plagued by relationships with other people after she wished her mother to never come home the night her mother’s car runs off the road and kills her. I don’t believe that this narrator could be “anyone,” so this narrative device doesn’t work for me. It frustrates me instead. That being said, I enjoyed reading this book and exploring the narrator’s world (henceforth referred to as Jane).

As I read the beginning of this book, I felt very much for Jane. As a child,who didn’t have negative “wishes” or thoughts about one’s parents from time to time? How would your life be different had your parent died before you saw them again? Jane simply determined that she was a selfish and unlovable soul. She became introverted and obsessed with death. Jane finds that she is a good listener and only has a series of casual sexual affairs throughout her life. As soon as a suitor indicates that he wants more than sex, she ends the relationship.

Jane and Ned, her older brother, were taken in by their maternal grandmother after the car accident. They were close as children. Jane grows up loving Grimm’s Fairy Tales while Ned prefers the scientific. He becomes a meteorologist and moves to Florida to work at Orlon University, the school at which his wife is also a professor. Jane remains in New Jersey. She becomes a research librarian and takes care of their grandmother. Although they haven’t remained close, Ned convinces Jane to move to Florida with him after their grandmother’s passing. On the way down there, Jane makes a near fatal wish to be struck by lighting. It didn’t take long for her wish to become reality.

This book explores how lives are impacted by one single factor. This story was an interesting story within which to wonder “what would happen if.” I enjoyed reading about her relationship with her brother and sister-in-law. Her struggles with friendships and adult relationships felt true to her. This may not be a story that will live with me forever o even next year, but I enjoyed my time in this world. It is a pleasant read. Everyone wishes for one of those every now and again.


To buy this novel, click here.

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