This story, penned with precise beauty, was one that took me by suprise inasmuch that I commenced my journey into this book with hesitance. Perhaps, it was the time in which I started the read or it could have been the unlikely event that my mind wasn’t prepared to focus on the painted pictures and quiet tamber in which the story unveiled itself to me. In truth, I put this book down, read 5 others, and then felt an internal determination to pick it back up and complete my goal of reading this story.
So much had been told to me, via the media and Oprah’s Book Club opinions, that I felt it more of a necessity to be able to say that I have read this book than just the pure passion and excitement that I had discovered a book that I couldn’t wait to crack open. When I picked up the novel for the second time, in almost a sense of obligation, I read it with a new set of eyes.
Although I had already read 20% of the novel, I began my second reading on Page 1. The book begins with the near ending of the tale and, as I discover the death of Fermina’s husband, I also find the beginning of a love story that I want to unravel and understand at a faster fervor than I first conceptualized, internally. This is a love story as much as it is a story of anguish, despair, and the revelation of living in the dark depths of the human soul.
My heart was always on the side of Fermina’s first psuedo-love, Florentino. The manner in which he dealt with his unrequited love, his devastating heartbreak and despair, I could completely relate with in a state of full compassion. Admittedly, I believe that at one time or another most of us have suffered the consequences of loving another more than the receipt of the returned love. Florentino finds solace in numerous affairs, however never opens his soul nor heart to these women, many of which, came to feel deep love and compassion for him. Which brought me to empathsize with that part of love when you fall for a lover whose love is unrequited…. and, yet… the hope remains alive in some form or fashion within your heart and mind.
The novel takes you back and forth between the lives of these separated lives to bring the reader the complete understanding of the origin of the decisions made by each one of them. Being a woman, I had hoped that I would find more compassion and understanding in Fermina’s viewpoint, but kept finding disdain for her inability to demolish the walls around her heart and evolve from her continual attempts to remain in solice. I pitied her for finding the beauty in her long-term marriage to Dr. Urbino only after his death. I related to her desire to burn and eradicate all memories of this marriage, not commenced of love, but of duty and reason…. only to find that the love that was there was as real as the love she held for Florentino, despite her own internal acceptance and recognition of such.
The path that they each took in finding a way back to each other took longer than my impatient mind would tolerate. Seeing Florentino substituting sex for love and Fermina’s stubborness continue for such an extended period only added to my compulsion to finding them back to one another at a faster pace than Marquez would deliver it to me. So much so, that by the time that the world had broken Fermina to the point where she was ready to take those chances with her life and with her heart, I was reading with such a fast pace and fervor to reach the ending in hopes that they’d find that “perfect ending” in each other.
The ending of this book is as romantic as it is sad, for me. I’ve heard of the movie and would like to see how others interpreted this literary piece of work… maybe my eagerness pushed me too quickly through the prose (hopefully, not). This book surprised me and my expectations. At times, this book aroused my senses and kept me clinging for more despite my tired eyes. At other times, the smaller details which so richly described the setting, rather than painting a picture and finding my gratitude on the other side, felt like a weight on the story in which I so desperately needed to know the ending to. I am a die-hard believer in not reading the ending first… so that explains my pace and fervor.
In recommending this book… yes, I would…. but, it should be said that it is for those who believe what Marquez states so eloquently at the tail end of the story:
“It had to be a mad dream, one that would give her the courage she would need to discard the prejudices of a class that had not always been hers but had become hers more than anyone’s. It had to teach her to think of love as a state of grace: not the means to anything but the alpha and omega, an end in itself.”
These words summarized so much that I believe to be true about love and life.
(And, on the “Out of Ten” scale, I’d give it a 9.75!)