In this classic novel from the Columbian author of A Hundred Years Of Solitude, the story of a love triangle that lasted over fifty years is told.
Set in the political unrest of South America, sharp tempered Fermina Daza is married to Dr Juvenal Urbino, a well respected man, who is nearing the end of his days. But over fifty years before, as a young school girl, she had a romance with a man that she ultimately rejected with Florentino Ariza, and he has spent his whole life waiting for her.
With themes of aging, sex, politics and war, the book tells the story of the marriage of Fermina and Urbino, it’s ups and downs, and the past life of Fermina and Florentino, as well as his plans for the fifty years that he has waited. On the death of her husband, Florentino might finally have his chance, but can he convince Fermina to give him a chance?
Although is it about two relationships, the book is certainly not romantic in a lot of ways, or at least not what we understand romance novels to be now. There’s violence and prejudice in the story, and plenty of humour and tragedy. And often the tragedy is rather glossed over, as though it is such a common occurrence as to be taken as in the course of things, rather than as a poignant event.
There are also some things that Florentino does which are not considered ok by modern standards. A relationship between himself and a teenage girl under his care is an obvious case in point, and his relationship with Fermina is partly romantic, partly obsessive.
But that said, I really enjoyed this book. It’s fascinating culturally, and beautifully told in a circular way, rather than linearly. Often funny and tragic, I liked the story of the marriage and the pasts of all the characters. It moves at a smooth pace, and is thoroughly interesting.
Read It If: You liked A Hundred Years Of Solitude, or South American literature or history, or if you’d like to read a romance with a difference.