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Posted on Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 11:44 a.m.

This Week's Recommended Read: 'Love in the Time of Cholera'

By Melissa LR Handa


"Love in the Time of Cholera" is featured in Boxall's anthology '1001 books you must read before you die' and is well worth the read.

Preview … Love in the Time of Cholera” is one of my all-time favorite novels. In fact, I have alluded to my love for Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s masterpiece many-a-time in my reviews of other stories. Just turn the page and let the author transport you back in time and across the world, to early 20th century Colombia.

Here we meet Florentino Ariza, a man who has vowed to love his childhood sweetheart forever and to wait for her no matter how long it takes. Fifty-one years, nine months and four days after their affair ended, Florentino is able to declare his eternal love for Fermina once again upon the death of her husband, Dr. Juvenal Urbino. To pass the time during the fifty-odd year interim, Senor Ariza engages in several-hundred secret affairs with women of all sorts. He also works toward a successful career, so that when his second chance with Fermina comes, he will be worthy of her.

The language in this novel is just beautiful. Magical realism is front and center as real-life occurrences become anything but ordinary. Through this world, we learn that love if not properly quenched can become an illness not unlike cholera. Our noble romantic must suffer if he is to obtain his prize, no manner of earthly pleasures can derail him from his end-course. In the end, Florentino Ariza and Fermina Daza must find happiness with one another, if we are ever to believe in true love’s destiny.

You may like this book if… you enjoy a good love story, you like period literature, you like the idea of love overcoming all obstacles, you like prose that flow beautifully almost like poetry, you have ever pined for a lover, you enjoy watching characters evolve over the course of many decades, you like the idea of two people finding happiness with one another very late in life, you enjoy the liberal use of metaphors and magical elements, you liked the 2007 film adaptation


You may not like this book if… you hated Lolita and do not want to see Florentino Ariza play a Humbert Humbert like role, you don’t find it very romantic to aid a broken heart by engaging in one torrid love affair after the next, unrealistic plot points irk you, you cannot handle watching our hero suffer for his love for such a long time, you don’t want to read about extramarital affairs, sexual activities with deadly outcomes or a large-scale epidemic because you find these topics to be just too depressing

Melissa LR Handa is the founder and organizer for the Ann Arbor Classics Book Group and the lead books contributor for If you would like more information or to join the group, please feel free to send an email her way.


Melissa LR Handa

Tue, Nov 3, 2009 : 11:58 a.m.

Sorry to my readers (if you are out there) for posting my Friday column on a Tuesday. Last week was crazy for me as I conferenced in New Orleans!