I started reading this one in February 2020, coincidentally at the exact same time that our lives were flipped upside down because of COVID-19. ‘Love in the time of COVID’ became my private little joke as I made my way through this first (of two) García Márquez books listed in my 100 book challenge.
Our family has fared well so far – we’ve kept our jobs and we’re enjoying the extra family time at home. I’m reading more books too, with the 100 book challenge seeming even more achievable thanks to Coronavirus lockdowns. Not everyone has been so lucky… and things are far from over here in Australia.
This was a great book to read during a pandemic. At first, I was quite overwhelmed by the dense paragraphs and very little dialogue, but with added time to read I managed to power through and become absorbed by the story. It spans almost 100 years, and I came to appreciate the word count (which is a constant struggle for me as I work through the classics) and I was even a little sad when it was over.
García Márquez tells us every detail about the main characters – we get to know Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza with such intimacy, that we can almost predict their every move. And with the book set in Colombia at the turn of the 20th century – with its river boats, patioed terraces, open sewers and constant threat of cholera – I learned so much about life in that time and place that I’d never known before now.
Cholera has had seven pandemics in the past 200 years, with the latest being in the early 1990s. Who knows whether COVID-19 will follow suit and if isolation will become the new normal… will we still be talking about this in 200 years’ time?
There are some things that won’t change. Love will continue. Obsessions (such as Florentino Ariza’s that often stepped into creepiness) will continue. Rekindled love after 59 years (spoiler alert!) will continue. And I hope that in 200 years’ time someone will pick up Love in the Time of Cholera and will feel as moved and amazed as I was.
In July 2014 I set myself the challenge to finish 100 must-read books before I die. For my ongoing tally click here.Follow @jessieansons