Bloggers Book Club: LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA(spoiler warning)

From the book cover:

In their youths, Floerntino Ariza and Fermina Daza fall passionately in love. when Fermina eventually chooses to marry a wealthy, well born doctor, Florentino is devastated, but he is a romantic. As he rises in his business career he whiles away the years in 622 affairs – yet he reserves his heart for Fermina. Her husband dies at last , and Florentino purposefully attends the funereal. Fifty one years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again

Here is what the book clubbers think:

Asoom:  I’m not sure how I feel about Fermina’s marriage to Dr. Urbino-like whether it was the right decision or if it was a major mistake, so I was interested in what you guys thought.

Hamza: OK since me and 7aki are on page 163, then we are at the point when Fermina has just returned home from her honeymoon.

so to follow up on asoom’s point, I was a bit disappointed that so far the book didn’t discuss the wedding in detail. Considering how the book narrates it, I was expecting at least 10 to 20 pages of Fermina’s thoughts as she goes to the altar and what was on her mind. Instead, I got a 5 page description of how she and her husband were sexually arousing each other. I am not saying it is not necessary but I expected the novel to focus more on the love relationship rather than the “making love” one.

For me, it is too early to judge whether the marriage is right or wrong because as they said, they were “building their love”. I think all of us can relate to it since this is the practice adopted in our cultures.

Personally, I felt sorry for Florentino Ariza for the sacrifices he made and to be denied based on his social status.

7aki Fadi: To answer Asoom, the author at least until page 190 did not elaborate on the soundness of her decision which makes me think it’s irrelevant. It was like she took the decision  and just moved on and got married and had a child. it seems that all what matters here is what Florentino Ariza was feeling and that was greatly described.

I am not sure if her relationship with Florentino Ariza was right to begin with, it seemed more of an infatuation on his and her parts. She was too young and he is a hopeless romantic.

I was shocked when she saw him after 2 years of being away and she just was hit by the realization that what she was doing was wrong and how she felt so sorry for him. You really can’t help but feel sorry for him.

Hamza, I think the author did not elaborate on her feelings when she was getting married because florentino’s feelings and thoughts are the important ones since he is the one who is going to wait for 51 years to get her again.

As for the 5 page foreplay scene I thought was important to see how she was afraid and how she managed to be the one in control of her self at least in that aspect since all her life she was controlled by the nuns and her dad and Florentino Ariza and finally her husband, this is the only place were she got to be in complete control .

What are your thoughts about that?


37 Responses

  1. I’m mindful of where you guys are in the book and I initially thought her agreeing to marry Dr. Urbino was the best thing for her, considering the norms of the culture and society (as hamza pointed out) I didn’t think the fact that they weren’t in love was going to to be an issue….I got the impression they were both on the same page with how they felt about each other.

    I also thought it was a great thing for her because her life at home wasn’t going great, her only guardan (her father) was on his way to falling apart and the people she most put her love and trust in were not around. I’m not saying that marriage would solve her problems, I’m more saying that it was a better situation and environment for her.

    Also, it seemed that she had come to terms with the fact that she never really loved florentino but she was in love with this image of him that she created in her head. She realized that in the scene 7aki pointed out when she turned around to face him at the market. I would have felt differently about the marriage if she actually did love florentino.

    Anyway, as the book progresses and the story ends I just wasn’t sure if the marriage was a good idea.

  2. I also did think the wedding night scene was important, I thought it set the stage for what their relationship with each other was going to be like-or at least what they were hoping it would be like….Dr. Urbino taking the initiative and the lead then moving aside and fermina taking control of herself in the situation yet remaining poised and dignified.

  3. No no no!

    She loves him. She was just too chicken to face up to t a life less than ordinary and what her father had pre-ordained for him. She took the easy way out and as you read through the book you realize that she knew it all along but she just wouldn’t admit it to herself. She ran from everything and it isn’t till her husband has an affair that she finally puts a real foot down.

    She propegated the myth for herself.

    In the end it all works out. The way its supposed to.

  4. Oh and no it is not fair and accurate to say he reserved his love for her all that time.

    He did not. The fact he had all those trysts and affairs are proof to that. He even falls in love with a black woman.

    This book is about dealing with the choices and the things you don’t want to admit to yourself and are too afraid to deal with.

    And yet somehow their love remains pure to me in my eyes. How that author achieved that I don’t know.

  5. inmotion77, hamza and 7aki haven’t finished the book so don’t give it away for them 😉

    but like I said, when fermina agreed to marry urbino I thought it was the best choice-I was certain she didn’t love florentino….but as the book progressed and then ended I wasn’t sure anymore.

    You should totally read with us, the next book is going to be “shadow of the wind,” you have some time to get it!

  6. ukhh! losers!! Let me know so I could get in on this next time lol.. ahead of time. I loved the idea.

  7. Ok It wasn’t him that falls in love with a black woman. It was someone else. Got a bit carried away there.

    I could go on and on about this book but I’ll shut up. Its one of my favourites.

    I just finished reading Boomsday.

    I finished it in 5 hours. It was that good.

  8. I think its just a maneuver from Florentino to get fermina out of the way so he could take over the shoe factory, I mean look at it this way, what if we take Dr. Urbino out of the picture (let say he deices to become a priest), and then lets say for example fermina dies of obesity, and imagine that Florentino suddenly decides to immigrate to Amman to open a bootlegged DVD shop downtown amman, can you picture it? can you? clearly thats what the author had in mind!

  9. Also, how the heck can i join this so called “bloggers book club” of yours? I’m currently reading LoTR lets discuess that! whaddya say? eh? 😀

  10. bakkouz, LOL, interesting theory. You and Batoul are more than welcome to join us, next we’re reading “shadow of the wind” by Carlos Zafron. You have some time to get it!

  11. 5 pages for a sex scene?!

    *goes to buy book*

  12. LOL @ KJ’s comment…i have not looked for the book sound interesting..

  13. People…let’s start a practice. After your name, say to which page you arrived and whether you finish the book or not so those who didn’t finish the book know what comments to read and what comments not to read.
    Right now I am at page 183. Since I read everyday at night before I sleep, my average pace is 20-25 pages per week.
    I assume 7aki is still in page 190 and that she reads only at workdays when she is on the subway. So I guess I can catch up in these 2 days where she is off. 😀

    KJ – dude, there is a WHOLE chapter where it tells you about the sexual experiences of a guy with all the women he encounters.

    Personally, I think I’ll finish the book in 10 days or 2 weeks and then we’ll start “shadow of the wind”. But be warned. Its a long book. 512 pages.

  14. hamza, you mean 20-25 a day right?

  15. You think this book would educate me bout sex?

    I’m going to read a book,asoom,wrote ,she had gotten ,as a door mat is not what I want to be.

  16. sorry meant 20-25 pages a day

  17. Wishing you and your loved ones a very happy new year!

  18. Inmotion77 (1) : You know what I agree, I just read up to page 219 and she’s right now thinking about him and wondering how it would have been like if she went to see him when her cousin went to the post office.
    As for her husband cheating on her, not there yet 🙂 .

    Inmotion77 (2): I never felt she loved him, I felt her being curious about how is it to live with him than to love him.
    As for him reserving his love for her or not. She was on his mind every waking day after the first time he met her, always comparing his lovers to her so I think he did reserve his love for her. As for her, he was almost never on her mind, I felt she is a confused conflicted person.

    Batoul: As Asoom said we are reading “shadow of the wind” next . You have time to get it since Hamza needs a year to read the book, LOL .

    Inmotion: No no don’t shut up, tell us tell us, what do you think? I am at page 219 now.

    Boomsday, I’ll add it to my list, HEY HEY HEY, you want to read “spot of bother” with me until we start the next book in the book club?

    Bakkouz: HAHAHAHAHA. Dude, you ALWAYS crack me up.
    LOTR, waaaaaaaaaaal hada inta qadeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeem 😛 . Lets discuss, waddia think ??

    KJ: Pervert.

    Sam: I knowwww, his comment cracked me up.

    Hamza: I am at page 219 as of this second and on my ride home I will be at page 250 or something.
    So Hamza, it’s only 2 books a month for the book club eh?

    Crystal: Well it’s not a book about sex really so no it wouldn’t educate you.

    CTEW: Hey Summer, I love the new place!

  19. From a analytical and literarey point of view (excuse spelling I’ve been spoiled by spell checker) this is what I have to say

    First – The first time I read this book I was 24. I was still a big believer in the love conquers all theory and I am still somewhat however at the time love and the romance of it in all its types were a vision I aspired to. So reading the book and finishing it was something I needed to do. I had to find out if they ended up together in the end because back then that was the only ending that I deemed suitable for love.

    Now, I’m 30 and I have this to say.

    She is above all a person that is afraid of change and afraid of loosing control. That is a predominant theme through out the book. Her affections for her husband sway between true passionate love and ashes that have nothing but a few flickers of light left in them should duty require it. She never discovers who she is outside of the box of society and marriage. A theme unfortunately still prevalent in our world to this day. Her problem however is not any of the above. Her problem is the admission of all of this to herself. Throughout the book you will notice that she is always trying to maintain some control whatever or however she can get it while minding her role in her family and in society and yet there are times when she surprises everyone by breaking that mold and causing many speculations about her behaviour from all but not least of all her husband who in response is not aware of what else is there other than what he has done all his life.

    Whereas Florentino from his childhood is someone that does not fit the mold. Has and continues throughout his life to break it. His motivation is portrayed as an idealization of love from the beginning however although this is his biggest saving grace on the surface. It’s his actual loyalty to the concept of this idealized love that he perpetuated only to himself that becomes in question.

    Did he truely love her or was he in love with the idea of her? Throughout the book his narrative clearly speaks of his loyalty to her but then his actions and his behaviour contradict that loyalty .. so what you really have to ask yourself when you are finished reading this book is

    Who loved who truthfully? And above all .. is love really meant only to be had in one form?

    If it were then the ending of this beautifully written book would not make as much sense on any level deeper than the fairy tale of cinderella and snow white.

    Once you’ve read through though ask yourself did the author really call this book Love in the Time of Cholera because of the Cholera or because of their inwardly selfish behaviour throughout their fifty year story?

  20. I just posted a long answer and hit publish

    where did it go?

  21. That was great, thanks inmotion.

    I think he’s kind of saying that their love is like Cholera. I can’t wait to finish the book.

    For some odd reason ALL your comments go to spam! I have no clue why so every time you comment I have to de-spam it although I said over and over that your comments are not spam. Weird.

    So you didn’t tell me, wanna read “spot of bother”?

  22. 7aki 7aki…
    Happy new year dear 😀

  23. Never even heard of that book .. oh wait ya I saw it on the best seller list at the local book shop here. I read the back side of it and it didn’t register as anything other than booooooooooooring so I got Boomsday instead which is by that guy that wrote thank you for smoking and I finished the night I got it and I loved it.

    I wouldn’t mind reading spot of bother at all if the point of it is to discuss it. But I don’t know if I can wait till you guys are done reading love in the time of cholera.

    I usually take no more than five days to finish a book.

    So its your guys’ call.

    I’m up for it!

  24. Ok as for who loved who truthfully. I’m still not sure what to say about Fermina, but I believe Florentino did truthfully love Fermina. It can be argued that his love may have been misguided or unconventional, but it was real love that he had for a person named fermina daza.

    If you compare how he felt towards fermina with how he felt about everyone else he ever encountered in life-relative to those relationships if he didn’t love fermina than he has never loved anyone. To me it’s all relative like that.

  25. I’m not into books, and from that sounds so boring that if it was to be made into a movie,and got stuffed with fighter jets and alien invasions to spice it up…it’d still be boring no one would go watch it…

    I’m here to say…happy new year lady!

  26. Nice idea 7aki:)

    Love in the time of Cholera might be or even IS the only book that I never seized to finish!

    I hate not finishing books and its a habit in me to just finish any book even if I hate or dislike it but this was just an overdose for me. I was neither intrigued nor interested in any of its happenings.

    I mean even “My name is Red” which they say is a hard read to follow because of the description and long ongoing sentences I managed to finish but this one I’ll need a looooooooooong break before I go back to it:D

    Seriously I do believe there is something called reading taste buds and a book having a Nobel literature prize won’t make me want to like/love it just because of that.

  27. Mai: Happy new year to you too my friend 😀 .

    inmotion: No this book is not for the book club. I am like you I read a book a week and in between book clubs books i will read other books too.

    It’s up to you if you want to read it or not 🙂 , you don’t seem too interested in it (it’s the same author Mark Hadden who wrote curious incident book) so let me know what you’re reading next and I will check it out.

    Asoom: I think it’s twisted love really.

    mr. Anon: to be very honest with you, I hate the book, lol.
    Happy new years to you too.

    ohoud: Actually it was not my idea it was Hamza and Asoom 🙂 .
    I never ever ever not finish a book even if it was pure torture and honestly this book is boring, I am thinking maybe because it’s translated and a lot of things get lost in translation. So I agree, this book is a challenging read because nothing really happens in this book and I am starting to think that Oprahs book club sucks, her choices are always boring.

    I read my name is red, I enjoyed but as you said it was a tough read.

    Check out my books I read page up top . There are some books I loved I am sure you will enjoy.

  28. I have a good book for discussion ..

    Mohammad – Karen Armstrong

    Just finished that

    You know what I will get a spot of bother if its by the same author.

    Khalas meshe el 7al 🙂

  29. inmotion: I read Mohammed a while back it was a good read!

    Sounds great! Let me know when you pick it up.

  30. hi , i really liked the idea of the BOOK CLUB that u r doing right now ..
    actually i used to read books in my university times but nowadays i leave my work at 6 ,i have a mosalsal at 7 and till 8 am almost tired to go through lines and read !!!
    any suggested idea to get back to reading ..

  31. dandooneh: Well. You can read on the weekend or before bed time.

    If you don’t have time to read then I suggest books on tape or CD when you are driving or taking a cab or whatever, put the book on your MP3 player. Also while at the gym if you go to the gym 😀 .

    Or join our book club and then you’d be motivated because other people are reading with you and would push you to read more .

    Good luck with that, reading is truly soul enriching

  32. [I dunno whether this is the right post to write about it or not..but here is it for the 3rd time (I posted it on my blog, on a comment to asoom’s post before. :P)

    Overall, I think that this book should be taught in schools & universities under the literature course. There are endless metaphors and character development possibilities that can be discussed or analysed.

    + things –

    1- one of the best coherent books I read. The flow of the ideas in the book as it goes from an event to another or from a character to another is amazing. The novel never stops at an idea till the chapter ends. E.g. It’ll be talking about the character after they got married and how they are settling in the house..describing the house..the garden around it..then describing the neighborhood around it then describing the history around neighborhood till it connects to a story involving Person A & his history in neighborhood..then they discuss Person A etc etc.

    2- A very good story that will be memorable for years. It could be classified as a classic in Romance & Drama genre especially when talking about hte love of Florentino Ariza

    -ve things:
    1- Despite its coherence, the book was sometimes tough to read. I don’t know whether it was the language, the lack of action, the lack of conversations, or even monotone in the way it described things.
    2- Sometimes more descriptive than informative. I was disappointed that the author didn’t tell us about the actual content of each letter which I think is vitally important since the only action in the whole novel is involved around exchanging letters.

    Opinion about Conclusion: when I reached half the book, I knew that i shouldn’t expect surprises in the conclusion. I figured it out 10 pages before reaching the end. The best thing about it is that the final 10 pages justify the actual title of the book. Overall, I guess it was a happy & a classic ending.

    Character I loved: Its not Fermina or Florentina or Juvenal Urbino. I really loved the character of Leona Cassini. I liked her ambition towards success and her obsession about finding the man of her dreams who she only met at her teenage years.

    Rating: 3.5/5

  33. Hamza: Yes this is the right place.

    Wow what a good thorough analysis and I have to agree.

    I think the book was a bit hard to read maybe because it was a translated book, a lot gets lost in translation, but as you said the book IS memorable.

  34. See I liked when we did this all casually where we each posted on our blogs but I guess we do need some type of organization especially with more participation…..and so that Hamza doesn’t have to post his review 3 times! haha

    Ok so we can have a designated moderator for each book, wich is basically what you suggested 7aki…but at the same time I feel like it should be somewhat casual. Like if someone comes to a point where they feel like they really want to talk about something they should feel free to post on their blog and not wait for the moderator.

    So how does that sound?

    I can be the moderator for shadow of the wind unless hamza wants to do that since this book was his choosing, it’s all good.

  35. Asoom: Sounds Great! 😀 . Have one main post but nothing should stop anybody from posting on their blogs.

    You sort it out with Hamza or we can do it alphabetically so you’re next in line.

  36. woooooooow what a coincidence! first time to visit your blog and shofet your debate about love in the time of cholera… i’m done with it btw i think 100 years of solitude was better

  37. I think I take the straight-forward view that Fermina realized that she didn’t love Florentino when she saw him at the market.

    However, later when she was at odds with her boring lifestyle, she decided to marry Urbino and make a life with him.

    I think later on, she appreciated Florentino’s support while she mourned for Urbino, and she starts to love him again for what he is at present. I don’t think the old love held any weight for her at all.

    If you are interested, there is a brief review of the book at my blog here:

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