This was a little out of order as the next prompt that was mine was on hold, so I went ahead and skipped to my next one as we waited. Turns out my pick was one my mom had already read which was surprising to happen for the first time this late in the challenge. She opted to wait while I read it and pick back up when the next one was available off hold.
A book with the main character of a different ethnicity- Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez.
Florentino is a man of love. He happens upon Fermina Daza when he delivers a message to her father and from the moment he lays eyes on her he knows he has seen the only woman he will ever love. From then on, he stalks her waking moments and positions himself in such a way as to be able to “happen” upon her. After many weeks, he finds the courage to speak to her and thus begins a passionate love affair via the written word: the two never again speak in person and instead their entire relationship takes place in letters.
For her part, Fermina believes in her love of Florentino. She is a girl of sharp wit, a quick temper and a hatred of her father’s plans for her life. While Florentino writes prose full of poetry and flamboyant love, her responses are short and to the point. When he proposes marriage, she takes her time before accepting. Their love affair is secret from Fermina’s father and only her Aunt knows of them. When her father does find out, he is enraged. He sends the Aunt away and takes Fermina on a trip to her ancestral home to meet up with her cousins. Along the way, they devise a way to stay in touch.
Once she returns home however she meets up with Florentino face to face for the first time since their initial meeting and all her feelings flee. She abruptly ends the relationship, requests all her letters and trinkets returned and refuses to speak with him again.
Florentino is devastated. He continues to swear his love for her and only her and as their lives diverge, Fermina marries another and Florentino stays “true” to his one and only. As old age draws near, he hopes to rekindle a fire that he believes still exists between them.
The book takes place in a fictional Carribean port at the turn of the 19th century and spans 50 years. It is written in a mix of past and present tense by an unknown narrator that is neither of the main characters and is never fully revealed.
The main theme is of love, both returned and unrequited and the lengths one will go to to hold onto the past.
Fermina at once puts Florentino out of her mind once she turns him away and moves on to marry a local doctor allowing her to move up in class. She lives her life without a second though to the boy who once proposed marriage to her although she sees him out in town quite frequently. Once her husband passes, she is confronted with Florentino once again and quickly sends him away out of hand but soon realizes that perhaps she is as wrong now as she was before.
Florentino never forgets Fermina and begins to build his life in every way to serve his greater purpose of winning her back. He understands that her husband must die before he can make his move and waits patiently for over 50 years to do so. Lest one should think him a martyr, over those 50+ years he has nearly 700 sexual encounters and affairs which ends with an affair with his 14 year old goddaughter.
The book was riveting in content building the story in both the past and present. It takes care to spend time looking at those years from both Florentino’s and Fermina’s point of view which casts an interesting look at our lives and how we effect those we interact with. Each character is well rounded although I did find myself liking Fermina more and Florentino less as their stories unfolded over the course of their lives.
There are times when the book bogs down especially as it goes over the many sordid affairs Florentino aligns himself with. It got redundant and I found myself thinking “yeah, I got it the man likes to sleep around” multiple times throughout and wishing for another Fermina chapter to come along. The ending leaves a little to be desired, but I suppose there wasn’t any better way to do it.
I do recommend the book. My copy was nearly 900 pages long of close type, single spaced lines so it took a while to get through. 4/5