Love In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García MárquezLove In The Time Of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez

Love In The Time Of Cholera

byGabriel García Márquez

Paperback | October 5, 2007

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"A love story of astonishing power." - Newsweek 

The International Bestseller and modern literary classic by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez

In their youth, Florentino 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 funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.

Gabriel García Márquez was born in Colombia in 1927. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982. He is the author of many works of fiction and nonfiction, including One Hundred Years of Solitude, Love In The Time Cholera, The Autumn Of The Patriarch, The General In His Labyrinth, and News Of A Kidnapping. He died in 2014.
Title:Love In The Time Of CholeraFormat:PaperbackDimensions:368 pages, 8 × 5.17 × 0.8 inPublished:October 5, 2007Language:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307389731

ISBN - 13:9780307389732

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Rated 2 out of 5 by from What a slog Would you like to waste your reading time with a book full of entirely unlikable characters? Do you like in depth details about the most boring aspects of a person's life? Then this is the book for you. If you'd rather have an interesting story, a plot that moves ahead, characters you can relate to, and a book you'll enjoy reading I'd say take a pass on this. Classic or not, this book was terrible.
Date published: 2018-07-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from It Was Alright I wanted to read a classic love novel and decided to read this book. It was good but I couldn't get myself into the characters and fall in love with the book. Still if you are looking for a classic love story I would recommend this novel!
Date published: 2018-02-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great love story Beautiful lifelong love story but a hard book to get into. I had a hard time as there were no chapters, it just kept going on and on, not what I'm used to at all. The writing was good and it is a good story
Date published: 2017-12-27
Rated 3 out of 5 by from For a HIMYM fan, it wasn't as great as it was meant to be Aside from GGM being one of the most known writers I decided to pick up this book as it was referenced so many times in the TV series How I Met Your Mother. I read it and was not impressed by any stretch of the imagination. My partner, who is a native spanish speaker, did admit that a lot is lost in translation and the romantic language is often lost or has more significance and meaning if one reads the book in Spanish.
Date published: 2017-12-21
Rated 2 out of 5 by from okay Hyped as the most romantic book of all time, it was a huge disappointment.
Date published: 2017-11-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful This can be a difficult read and a bit slow but it is a really great and beautiful story. It is worth it to really take the time to read this book.
Date published: 2017-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Mixed feelings I have mixed feelings about this book. I kept hearing about how amazing it was before I read it and how it's one of those books that is a modern literary classic but I personally felt that some parts were hard to read through. It wasn't an easy read because some parts have really long descriptions of the setting (good for visualizing though) and took me a while to get through since I wasn't always engaged in the plot. Some parts of the book were beautifully written (you really get a sense of the time period and settings) and you can empathize with some of the characters but other parts felt very drawn out and I wanted the plot to hurry along some of the time. Not the worst thing I've read but not the best either so it gets 3 stars from me!
Date published: 2017-09-17
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Love in the Time of Cholera I think I finished just to have finished it. It's one of those books that always comes up as one of the greatest works and to an extent, I can see why people consider it as such. However for the most part, it became repetitive and towards the end, disgusting. If you've read it, you'll know it's that last affair the protagonist has is what I'm referring to. 100 Years of Solitude is much better than this.
Date published: 2017-07-12
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stays with you, worth the trouble I think this is a book that bits of it will stay with me forever. It was a challenge to read - 50-60 page chapters and next to no dialogue, but I found each passage beautiful. The over arching themes were wonderfully presented. I'm proud to have finished this book, even though I may avoid ever attempting another one of GGM works again!
Date published: 2017-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well written but has drawbacks A very well written book. Easy to visualize and be carried along, and you can root for the main character, and are left wondering how she will fare and how it will all end. There's never really a lull in the story either, as it gradually builds and builds in plot. I appreciated this because I saw the movie years ago. What I do not like and found bothered me was that the author is neither Japanese, or female. I found this made it difficult to fully enjoy and made me worry about the appropriateness of the book, especially considering the breach of trust that was made in publishing this book. I do recommend it for the story, however I would highly recommend reading it through a lens that accounts for an outsider writing this story.
Date published: 2017-06-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Well written I thought this was a beautifully written book with fascinating commentary. The only point where it felt questionable was when he is in a relationship with a minor.
Date published: 2017-05-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Easy Read I cant say I related to the characters very much, however reading a book spread over several decades stays with you.
Date published: 2017-03-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Good ! The only part of the book that made it difficult for me to read through was the prose. Beyond that, however, the characters were interesting and the story was engaging.
Date published: 2017-02-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Story This is a great story - I can't wait to reread it soon.
Date published: 2017-01-20
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not for me either I just couldn't get into it at all. I tried...a couple of times.
Date published: 2016-12-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favorite books of all time This story made me fall in love with love, and Cartagena de Indias, Colombia. The story of Fermina and Florentino, will leave you wanting the time of love that is timeless, patient and loyal. The movie doesn't do any justice to it. Don't watch the movie. Read the book.
Date published: 2014-10-31
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lyrical I first read this novel when I was 19 and am now 28. I still love this book. At times it can be a tad drawn out, however it is a love story an full of details about each character and their lives. I've noticed many reviewers were "disappointed" by this book and skeptical of the "Oprah's Readers club" (or whatever it is called).....I personally did not find this book a "difficult" read.
Date published: 2011-01-29
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Boring Not what I expected. Boring. Boring. Boring.
Date published: 2010-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from very original I think to read this book you have to just believe in what could happen and what sadly sometimes does. People who like simple books would not like this book, but people who are unique in a good way and like reading books that could and have happened would love this book.
Date published: 2008-07-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from "Thought Provoking!" "What Came Before He Shot Her" by Elizabeth George is an insightful look into the lives of minorities in British society. In this story the minority is a family of biracial children. We see how being different (looking different)can bring out the prejudices of smal-minded people. Also, we see how people who are constantly being pushed in a corner tend to react to the negative traits in others in destructive ways. We learned that it takes great courage to change a negative trend into a positive one.
Date published: 2008-07-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Tedious and Unsympathetc Characters I have always been a great reader but this one tested my mettle. I bought it 7 months ago and just finished it after putting it away and restarting several times. Only my stubborness kept me going. There is no way I could identify with either of the primary characters--one a 'low-life' who was more of a stalker than a lover. Way too cumbersome and slow-moving. I'm not interested in his other books after reading this one.
Date published: 2008-06-25
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Was not what I expected I wanted to like this book - I really did. I had heard so much about it and had high expectations for a beautiful love story. However I found the book was difficult to read - it is overly descriptive and detailed - so much so that it almost takes away from the story. I didn't hate the book - I still appreciate the story and am glad I read it, but it isnt for everyone, that's for sure.
Date published: 2008-05-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from very difficult to get started on this book,after 30 pages I gave up. difficult read
Date published: 2008-05-13
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not what i expected Well this book is not what i had thought it would be. I had heard so much about it through various sources and i was building myself up to read this great love story that would move me in some way. I am currently half way though and have been for a few months now. I find it difficult and overly descriptive. I will finish it because i believe no matter how bad a book is i will follow through so that i can give an honest and educated review; however it is not one i will recommend. Perhaps it will grab more of my attention later on. I will say this however, it is NOT predictable and it IS more realistic than some other love stories i have read. That is probably the only positive thing i can say about the story at this point.
Date published: 2008-05-12
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Waste of Time I found this book to be an utter waste of time! Where do I go to get a refund on my time and money?
Date published: 2008-03-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Perversion I can't be inspired by a character who is a rapist and child molester. Florentino raped a household servant whom he impregnated. He molested a 14 year old niece. He was supposed to be her guardian. Yeah, that's a shining testimony of enduring love. I think he should have been hauled off to jail in the final chapter.
Date published: 2008-03-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Beautiful Love Story I tought this book was beauitfully written. once I got past the first 50 pages or so I couldn't put it down. It flowed perfectly and was heartbreaking yet funny at the same time. I would recommend this book to anyone, it was an all-encompassing read, I felt like I was living it, it pust a smile on my face the whole time! Absolutely Beautiful. I have nothing bad to say about this book!
Date published: 2008-02-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from What the ???? picked it bored read another book...tried again got bored read another book...tried again got bored read another about page 300, not sure if i can find the energy to finish...what is all the hype about???
Date published: 2008-02-25
Rated 1 out of 5 by from not for me This book was not enjoyable for me at all. The basis for the tale was classic but the characters were all unsympathetic and not in any way relatable . The writing was admirable but somewhat challenging for me as a reader, the rhythm seemed to be way off . I believe this has something to do with the translation from spanish to english. I have read other books that have taken some effort and still felt fulfilled at the end, sadly this book left me feeling like i had wasted my time.
Date published: 2008-02-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Entertaining I reall enjoyed reading this book, I was looking for something different and original but also real. I know many people will find the book as good as I did
Date published: 2008-01-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Meh. I am so glad I am not the only person in the world who did not enjoy this book. I found the characters hard to relate to, and I never really cared about the characters. I hear 100 Years of Solitude is better. Maybe I'll try that one instead.
Date published: 2008-01-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from pretty good but not great I've read Marquez's "one hundred years of solitude" and was expecting something similar. The writing style was the same, things were described poeticially and there were many lines you might want to remember or write down because of their beauty... The actual story was a lot more love based than 'one hundred years...'. Although, I had expected a real love story, maybe because I saw the movie previews... A love story that would touch me and make me want to fall in love all over again. That didn't happen. I found the main character to be creepy. I found the story development a little slow. All in all, nearing the end of the novel I was somewhat disappointed by this book. Not to say it's not a good book, I had just expected something life changing.
Date published: 2008-01-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Still uncertain what to think of this one An interesting story - written with great detail and descriptors so that the images are so clear in your mind, but I found myself confused by the character's because of their names (I am not good at books with non-north american names). I also wasn't sure what to think of the protagonist - at the end, I certainly did not like him. Really not sure what to think of this - a slow dull read at times and a fascinating read at other times.
Date published: 2008-01-21
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing I was looking forward to reading this book however am very disappointed. I find it has not been able to capture me at all. I won't be finishing this one.
Date published: 2008-01-20
Rated 2 out of 5 by from A little slow....glad to get to the end Although I enjoy the author's writing, this novel moves slowly over a generation of characters, sometimes too slowly.
Date published: 2008-01-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing! I REALLY struggled to get through this book. I found that his characters were shallow. I didn't really care what happened to them. I was shocked to see this described as the ultimate love story. This is not a book that I would recommend to others!
Date published: 2008-01-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Disappointing! I REALLY struggled to get through this book. I found that his characters were shallow. I didn't really care what happened to them. I was shocked to see this described as the ultimate love story. This is not a book that I would recommend to others!
Date published: 2008-01-18
Rated 1 out of 5 by from unreadable I was so excited to have time to read over the break so grabbed a nobel prize winner, how can you go wrong? It's just SO wrong. Completely unreadable, I want my money and time back. When three characters are introduced at once and for the rest of the chapter only "he" is used, it's impossible to follow without constant re-reading and eventually with such boring and lifeless characters you just don't care any more.Utter rot of a story and very annoying for anyone who actually reads and is used to well written literature.
Date published: 2008-01-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love in the Time of Cholera -- Excellent. Beautiful and Lyrical I finally finished the other day and I really liked reading Love in the Time of Cholera. The point at which I started to enjoy it was when Fermina and Urbino had their first fight that almost ended their marriage -- over soap in the bath. It was so believable that I immediately decided at that point on that this was a book for me. I'm sure that if I were still taking English classes there would be a lecture on the death of the landscape and how that relates to the love affair of Fermina Daza and Florentino -- that he neglected so much because his entire life was lived for her. The last page was absolutely beautiful and it gives great hope, being someone in their twenties and watching all of my friends get married that life and love can change when you least expect it -- even when you're 70 or 80 years old. I enjoyed the non-linear narrative -- how one thread would drop off and lead into something tangential but applicable to what the reader just heard about. It felt very cyclical in format and style which parallels the plot line itself.
Date published: 2008-01-16
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Heartbreaking a story of yearning A story of love and yearning. Heartbreaking and inspiring at times. Florentino Ariza a hopeless romantic falls in in love, his love marries another man. However he waits 51 years, 9 months and 4 days to profess his love once again after her husband dies. This is his story of waiting and holding on a love he had and will have again.
Date published: 2008-01-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Love or addiction It wasn't what I thought it would be. My own love story is better than that.
Date published: 2008-01-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Just difficult to read I never ever abandon a book i start and the only reason I read it because it was part of the book club and i commited to reading it. I like to review books but there is nothing to review about this book; it takes too long, not a lot happens, I mean you can descirbe the one thing for so long before it becomes boring.
Date published: 2008-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A wonderful Wordsmith If you love incredibly descriptive novels and have an appreciation for the use of often neglected vocabulary, then you will enjoy this book. The translator deserves kudos for taking a story that must have been rich in its original language and keeping it that way in English. This story is like a rich cake, so many may only be able to take it in small bites.
Date published: 2007-12-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Overrated I was looking forward to this one but was disappointed. I could not identify with, or even like, the 3 main characters. I never knew what they saw in one another. I also found it to be tedious to read. How many times can a setting be described, I got it the first time! Not one I'd recommend.
Date published: 2007-12-13
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Definitely Not Oprah's Best Choice I found this to be an extremely long, drawn out and tedious novel to read. The story line repeats itself over and over again throughout every chapter. I was not even able to finish the novel because it was such a chore. Not one of Oprah's finest choices.
Date published: 2007-12-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Not as good as expected I found this book to be a dreadfully tedious. The book sounded like it would be very romantic, but I found it to be boring and not at all believable. This is a very slow read and not very exciting. Definately not what I would call a page turner. I too suffered though to the end hoping it would improve and it did not.
Date published: 2007-12-04
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A Painful Chore to Read Positively one of the most tedious books I have ever read. Each page was a chore to get through. I felt that if I persevered at least through the first chapter the story line would improve and I would not be able to put the novel down. Unfortunately that was not the case.
Date published: 2007-11-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Love In the Time Of Cholera I read this book years ago and I still remember it. I enjoyed it much more than "100 Years of Solitude." Can there be anything more heart breaking than love that has never been given a chance to develop, to grow? How often do we make choices in our lives out of fear for the unknown, prefering a stable ground to uncertainty? I fear regret. The thought of looking back in my life and asking that dreadful question, what if? The novel reminds us that regret has no remedy and time truly waits for no one.
Date published: 2007-11-13
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Magic Realism This is my favourite Marquez book. It's very engaging and lyrical...and strange because of his writing style. Oprah made a great choice! (She also chose Faulkner, who is another excellent author.)
Date published: 2007-10-08

Read from the Book

IT WAS INEVITABLE: the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. Dr. Juvenal Urbino noticed it as soon as he entered the still darkened house where he had hurried on an urgent call to attend a case that for him had lost all urgency many years before. The Antillean refugee Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, disabled war veteran, photographer of children, and his most sympathetic opponent in chess, had escaped the torments of memory with the aromatic fumes of gold cyanide.He found the corpse covered with a blanket on the campaign cot where he had always slept, and beside it was a stool with the developing tray he had used to vaporize the poison. On the floor, tied to a leg of the cot, lay the body of a black Great Dane with a snow-white chest, and next to him were the crutches. At one window the splendor of dawn was just beginning to illuminate the stifling, crowded room that served as both bedroom and laboratory, but there was enough light for him to recognize at once the authority of death. The other windows, as well as every other chink in the room, were muffled with rags or sealed with black cardboard, which increased the oppressive heaviness. A counter was crammed with jars and bottles without labels and two crumbling pewter trays under an ordinary light bulb covered with red paper. The third tray, the one for the fixative solution, was next to the body. There were old magazines and newspapers everywhere, piles of negatives on glass plates, broken furniture, but everything was kept free of dust by a diligent hand. Although the air coming through the window had purified the atmosphere, there still remained for the one who could identify it the dying embers of hapless love in the bitter almonds. Dr. Juvenal Urbino had often thought, with no premonitory intention, that this would not be a propitious place for dying in a state of grace. But in time he came to suppose that perhaps its disorder obeyed an obscure determination of Divine Providence.A police inspector had come forward with a very young medical student who was completing his forensic training at the municipal dispensary, and it was they who had ventilated the room and covered the body while waiting for Dr. Urbino to arrive. They greeted him with a solemnity that on this occasion had more of condolence than veneration, for no one was unaware of the degree of his friendship with Jeremiah de Saint-Amour. The eminent teacher shook hands with each of them, as he always did with every one of his pupils before beginning the daily class in general clinical medicine, and then, as if it were a flower, he grasped the hem of the blanket with the tips of his index finger and his thumb, and slowly uncovered the body with sacramental circumspection. Jeremiah de Saint-Amour was completely naked, stiff and twisted, eyes open, body blue, looking fifty years older than he had the night before. He had luminous pupils, yellowish beard and hair, and an old scar sewn with baling knots across his stomach. The use of crutches had made his torso and arms as broad as a galley slave's, but his defenseless legs looked like an orphan's. Dr. Juvenal Urbino studied him for a moment, his heart aching as it rarely had in the long years of his futile struggle against death."Damn fool," he said. "The worst was over."He covered him again with the blanket and regained his academic dignity. His eightieth birthday had been celebrated the year before with an official three-day jubilee, and in his thank-you speech he had once again resisted the temptation to retire. He had said: "I'll have plenty of time to rest when I die, but this eventuality is not yet part of my plans." Although he heard less and less with his right ear, and leaned on a silver-handled cane to conceal his faltering steps, he continued to wear a linen suit, with a gold watch chain across his vest, as smartly as he had in his younger years. His Pasteur beard, the color of mother-of-pearl, and his hair, the same color, carefully combed back and with a neat part in the middle, were faithful expressions of his character. He compensated as much as he could for an increasingly disturbing erosion of memory by scribbling hurried notes on scraps of paper that ended in confusion in each of his pockets, as did the instruments, the bottles of medicine, and all the other things jumbled together in his crowded medical bag. He was not only the city's oldest and most illustrious physician, he was also its most fastidious man. Still, his too obvious display of learning and the disingenuous manner in which he used the power of his name had won him less affection than he deserved.His instructions to the inspector and the intern were precise and rapid. There was no need for an autopsy; the odor in the house was sufficient proof that the cause of death had been the cyanide vapors activated in the tray by some photographic acid, and Jeremiah de Saint-Amour knew too much about those matters for it to have been an accident. When the inspector showed some hesitation, he cut him off with the kind of remark that was typical of his manner: "Don't forget that I am the one who signs the death certificate." The young doctor was disappointed: he had never had the opportunity to study the effects of gold cyanide on a cadaver. Dr. Juvenal Urbino had been surprised that he had not seen him at the Medical School, but he understood in an instant from the young man's easy blush and Andean accent that he was probably a recent arrival to the city. He said: "There is bound to be someone driven mad by love who will give you the chance one of these days." And only after he said it did he realize that among the countless suicides he could remember, this was the first with cyanide that had not been caused by the sufferings of love. Then something changed in the tone of his voice."And when you do find one, observe with care," he said to the intern: "they almost always have crystals in their heart."Then he spoke to the inspector as he would have to a subordinate. He ordered him to circumvent all the legal procedures so that the burial could take place that same afternoon and with the greatest discretion. He said: "I will speak to the Mayor later." He knew that Jeremiah de Saint-Amour lived in primitive austerity and that he earned much more with his art than he needed, so that in one of the drawers in the house there was bound to be more than enough money for the funeral expenses."But if you do not find it, it does not matter," he said. "I will take care of everything."He ordered him to tell the press that the photographer had died of natural causes, although he thought the news would in no way interest them. He said: "If it is necessary, I will speak to the Governor." The inspector, a serious and humble civil servant, knew that the Doctor's sense of civic duty exasperated even his closest friends, and he was surprised at the ease with which he skipped over legal formalities in order to expedite the burial. The only thing he was not willing to do was speak to the Archbishop so that Jeremiah de Saint-Amour could be buried in holy ground. The inspector, astonished at his own impertinence, attempted to make excuses for him."I understood this man was a saint," he said."Something even rarer," said Dr. Urbino. "An atheistic saint. But those are matters for God to decide.''In the distance, on the other side of the colonial city, the bells of the Cathedral were ringing for High Mass. Dr. Urbino put on his half-moon glasses with the gold rims and consulted the watch on its chain, slim, elegant, with the cover that opened at a touch: he was about to miss Pentecost Mass.In the parlor was a huge camera on wheels like the ones used in public parks, and the backdrop of a marine twilight, painted with homemade paints, and the walls papered with pictures of children at memorable moments: the first Communion, the bunny costume, the happy birthday. Year after year, during contemplative pauses on afternoons of chess, Dr. Urbino had seen the gradual covering over of the walls, and he had often thought with a shudder of sorrow that in the gallery of casual portraits lay the germ of the future city, governed and corrupted by those unknown children, where not even the ashes of his glory would remain.On the desk, next to a jar that held several old sea dog's pipes, was the chessboard with an unfinished game. Despite his haste and his somber mood, Dr. Urbino could not resist the temptation to study it. He knew it was the previous night's game, for Jeremiah de Saint-Amour played at dusk every day of the week with at least three different opponents, but he always finished every game and then placed the board and chessmen in their box and stored the box in a desk drawer. The Doctor knew he played with the white pieces and that this time it was evident he was going to be defeated without mercy in four moves. "If there had been a crime, this would be a good clue," Urbino said to himself. "I know only one man capable of devising this masterful trap." If his life depended on it, he had to find out later why that indomitable soldier, accustomed to fighting to the last drop of blood, had left the final battle of his life unfinished.At six that morning, as he was making his last rounds, the night watchman had seen the note nailed to the street door: Come in without knocking and inform the police. A short while later the inspector arrived with the intern, and the two of them had searched the house for some evidence that might contradict the unmistakable breath of bitter almonds. But in the brief minutes the Doctor needed to study the unfinished game, the inspector discovered an envelope among the papers on the desk, addressed to Dr. Juvenal Urbino and sealed with so much sealing wax that it had to be ripped to pieces to get the letter out. The Doctor opened the black curtain over the window to have more light, gave a quick glance at the eleven sheets covered on both sides by a diligent handwriting, and when he had read the first paragraph he knew that he would miss Pentecost Communion. He read with agitated breath, turning back on several pages to find the thread he had lost, and when he finished he seemed to return from very far away and very long ago. His despondency was obvious despite his effort to control it: his lips were as blue as the corpse and he could not stop the trembling of his fingers as he refolded the letter and placed it in his vest pocket. Then he remembered the inspector and the young doctor, and he smiled at them through the mists of grief."Nothing in particular," he said. "His final instructions."It was a half-truth, but they thought it complete because he ordered them to lift a loose tile from the floor, where they found a worn account book that contained the combination to the strongbox. There was not as much money as they expected, but it was more than enough for the funeral expenses and to meet other minor obligations. Then Dr. Urbino realized that he could not get to the Cathedral before the Gospel reading."It's the third time I've missed Sunday Mass since I've had the use of my reason," he said. "But God understands."So he chose to spend a few minutes more and attend to all the details, although he could hardly bear his intense longing to share the secrets of the letter with his wife. He promised to notify the numerous Caribbean refugees who lived in the city in case they wanted to pay their last respects to the man who had conducted himself as if he were the most respectable of them all, the most active and the most radical, even after it had become all too clear that he had been overwhelmed by the burden of disillusion. He would also inform his chess partners, who ranged from distinguished professional men to nameless laborers, as well as other, less intimate acquaintances who might perhaps wish to attend the funeral. Before he read the posthumous letter he had resolved to be first among them, but afterward he was not certain of anything. In any case, he was going to send a wreath of gardenias in the event that Jeremiah de Saint-Amour, had repented at the last moment. The burial would be at five, which was the most suitable hour during the hottest months. If they needed him, from noon on he would be at the country house of Dr. Lácides Olivella, his beloved disciple, who was celebrating his silver anniversary in the profession with a formal luncheon that day.Once the stormy years of his early struggles were over, Dr. Juvenal Urbino had followed a set routine and achieved a respectability and prestige that had no equal in the province. He arose at the crack of dawn, when he began to take his secret medicines: potassium bromide to raise his spirits, salicylates for the ache in his bones when it rained, ergosterol drops for vertigo, belladonna for sound sleep. He took something every hour, always in secret, because in his long life as a doctor and teacher he had always opposed prescribing palliatives for old age: it was easier for him to bear other people's pains than his own. In his pocket he always carried a little pad of camphor that he inhaled deeply when no one was watching to calm his fear of so many medicines mixed together.He would spend an hour in his study preparing for the class in general clinical medicine that he taught at the Medical School every morning, Monday through Saturday, at eight o'clock, until the day before his death. He was also an avid reader of the latest books that his bookseller in Paris mailed to him, or the ones from Barcelona that his local bookseller ordered for him, although he did not follow Spanish literature as closely as French. In any case, he never read them in the morning, but only for an hour after his siesta and at night before he went to sleep. When he was finished in the study he did fifteen minutes of respiratory exercises in front of the open window in the bathroom, always breathing toward the side where the roosters were crowing, which was where the air was new. Then he bathed, arranged his beard and waxed his mustache in an atmosphere saturated with genuine cologne from Farina Gegenüber, and dressed in white linen, with a vest and a soft hat and cordovan boots. At eighty-one years of age he preserved the same easygoing manner and festive spirit that he had on his return from Paris soon after the great cholera epidemic, and except for the metallic color, his carefully combed hair with the center part was the same as it had been in his youth. He breakfasted en famille but followed his own personal regimen of an infusion of wormwood blossoms for his stomach and a head of garlic that he peeled and ate a clove at a time, chewing each one carefully with bread, to prevent heart failure. After class it was rare for him not to have an appointment related to his civic initiatives, or his Catholic service, or his artistic and social innovations.

Bookclub Guide

"A love story of astonishing power." - Newsweek The International Bestseller and modern literary classic by Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia MarquezIn their youth, Florentino 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 funeral. Fifty years, nine months, and four days after he first declared his love for Fermina, he will do so again.1. Why does García Márquez use similar terms to describe the effects of love and cholera?2. Plagues figure prominently in many of García Márquez’s novels. What literal and metaphoric functions does the cholera plague serve in this novel? What light does it shed on Latin American society of the nineteenth century? How does it change its characters’ attitudes toward life? How are the symptoms of love equated in the novel with the symptoms of cholera?3. What does the conflict between Dr. Juvenal Urbino and Florentino Ariza reveal about the customs of Europe and the ways of Caribbean life? How is Fermina Daza torn between the two?4. Dr. Urbino reads only what is considered fine literature, while Fermina Daza immerses herself in contemporary romances or soap operas. What does this reveal about the author’s attitude toward the distinction between “high” and “low” literature. Does his story line and style remind you more of a soap opera or a classical drama?5. After rejecting Florentino’s declaration of love following her husband’s funeral, why is Fermina eventually won over by him?6. Why does a change in Florentino’s writing style make Fermina more receptive to him?7. What does Florentino mean when he tells Fermina, before they make love for the first time, “I’ve remained a virgin for you” (p. 339)?8. Why does Florentino tell each of his lovers that she is the only one he has had?9. What does Florentino’s uncle mean when he says, “without river navigation there is no love” (p. 168)?10. Do Fermina and Dr. Urbino succeed at “inventing true love” (p. 159)?11. Set against the backdrop of recurring civil wars and cholera epidemics, the novel explores death and decay, as well as love. How does Dr. Urbino’s refusal to grow old gracefully affect the other two characters? What does it say about fulfillment and beauty in their society? Does the fear of aging or death change Florentino Ariza’s feelings toward Fermina Daza?12. Compare the suicide of Jeremiah de Saint-Amour at the beginning of the book with that of Florentino’s former lover, América Vicuña at the end. How do their motives differ? Why does the author frame the book with these two events?13. Why is Leona Cassiani “the true woman in [Florentino’s] life although neither of them ever knew it and they never made love” (p. 182)?14. When Tránsito Ariza tells Florentino he looks as if he were going to a funeral when he is going to visit Fermina, why does he respond by saying, “It’s almost the same thing” (p. 65)? (Used by permission of Penguin Books.)

Editorial Reviews

“This shining and heartbreaking novel may be one of the greatest love stories ever told.” --The New York Times Book Review“A love story of astonishing power…. Altogether extraordinary.” --Newsweek “Brilliant, provocative…magical…splendid writing.” --Chicago Tribune “Beguiling, masterly storytelling…. García Márquez writes about love as saving grace, the force that makes life worthwhile.” --Newsday  “A sumptuous book…[with] major themes of love, death, the torments of memory, the inexorability of old age.” --The Washington Post Book World