Rainer Maria Rilke

"Live a while in these books, learn from them what seems to you worth learning, but above all love them. This love will be repaid you a thousand and a thousand times, and however your life may turn,-it will, I am certain of it, run through the fabric of your growth as one of the most important threads among all the threads of your experiences, disappointments, and joys."--Rainer Maia Rilke

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Will Cause You To Question Your Beliefs About Love

Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Historical Fiction

I am so glad I waited to read this book.  If I had read it when it first came out and was getting all the awards and acclaims, I would certainly have missed the most poignant and heartfelt truths.  Many of the reviews I have read and book blurbs focus on the romantic nature of the book and the love affair between two of the characters.  I did not read the same book they did and my theory is because this is a book that speaks to people wherever they are in their road to romantic (love) maturity.

The book revolves around two main characters:  Fermina and Florentina.  They fall in love when each are young virgins and their entire relationship is only consummated on the pages of the letters they write to one another.  When Fermina is sent away by her father for the relationship, she years to return home and marry Florentina and begin her happily ever after.  Upon coming home, though, she sees that what she thought was love was only infatuation.  She breaks it off with Florentina and instead marries another man, one more prominent and wealthy.  The majority of the book actually focuses on Fermina's marriage to Dr. Juvenal Urbino and the love they eventually create.  Florentina never marries and spends decades waiting for a second chance with Fermina, convinced she is his soul mate.

Because I am on my way to middle age (maybe I'm already there, but I'm not admitting it in writing) and have been married for decades, I absolutely don't see the romance between Fermina and Florentina as anything other than youthful romantic infatuation.  I believe the love in the love in the title instead refers to the different kinds of love found in the book and the lesson that love, especially during times of turmoil and over long periods of time, can be found in many different ways.  There is romantic love, sexual love, and a beautiful kind of marriage love that can only be found when two people have spent their entire lives together.  I thought that Fermina and Juvenal's marriage and love were the really romantic parts of the book because it shows the strength of love to grow, endure, and sustain hearts.  I also don't think many of the reviews focus enough on the historical aspects of the book.  Cholera is a disease we don't know much about today, but is one that decimated populations during last century across the globe.  The book is a careful look at how a disease like cholera impacts every facet of life, influencing decisions one would never have made otherwise.
Overall, I found the book to be masterful both in language and content.  Best of all, it is one of those books that really causes you to think and consider deeply help convictions and beliefs and see the world in a different way.

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