It is an outstanding novel. Published in 1985, it is an open window to Garcia Marquez own story. It is based on the romantic love between his parents and all the obstacles they had to overcome to end up being together, with some variations. In the novel, Florentino Ariza, the telegraphist, witnessed how his long time love, Fermina Daza, slipped through his fingers after his love letters chased her for endless months through the whole territory of Colombia. Fermina Daza was taken away by his father, on a long trip on mule, trying to extinguish that flame of love, and he succeeded. When Fermina returned to their home town she saw him and was disappointed. She punished him with an absolute indifference for more than fifty years.
Luisa Santiaga Marquez, the mother of Garcia Marquez, was also taken away against her will in a mule, her morals guarded by her mother. They wanted to keep her away from Gabriel Eligio Garcia, the telegraphist, but as it happened on the book, they were only separated by distance, as Gabriel Eligio colleagues were well aware of Luisa Santiaga arrival in every town and delivered the love letters. Contrary to reality, Fermina Daza married another man, Juvenal Urbino, a reputed and generous practitioner, who was fighting for the eradication of Cholera, that was savaging the country. Juvenal took his young wife to Europe, leaving Florentino Ariza in an endless solitude that lasted fifty years.. The marriage to Juvenal, improved Fermina social status, but this did not save her from facing a boring life at his husband family house, overwhelmed by a puritan mother-in-law. Despite everything, Fermina and Juvenal were a stable couple and he was always faithful to his wife, except for one time when he met Barbara Lynch, a young mixed race woman, with irresistible beauty that almost ended up with breaking the marriage. Fermina used to recognise the smell of the woman in Juvenal’s clothes, as well as did Luisa Santiaga, the mother of Garcia Marquez, who sensed the fragrance of her husband lovers in his shirts. She did this so well, that in some cases she could even identify the name of the lover.
Despite Florentino having promised Fermina that he will remain a virgin for her, he slept with hundreds of women whose names he kept in various diaries over those fifty years. He also dedicated to improve his socio economic status at the ship company of his uncle, who helped him, despite being the illegitimate son of his brother. When Juvenal died trying to catch the parrot of the family that he detested for being loud and rude, Florentino remembered the promise he made to Fermina Daza, that was to love her forever.
The description of this characters brought his own happy memories to Garcia Marquez. His trips in the ships that were New Orleans style, that always threatened to sink before arriving at their destiny. The endless parties that Florentino Ariza enjoyed, seemed to be very similar to the parties that Garcia Marquez had with his friends all over Colombia. The music, always present in Garcia Marquez life. Florentino Ariza, the character, as well as Luis Enrique Garcia Marquez, the author brother, were both great musicians. Florentino used to give violin concerts to Fermina to remind her of his love, especially after his father sent away his sister, Escolastica, Fermina’s chaperone, when he discovered that she was allowing an active interchange of love letters. Luisa Santiaga had also a chaperone, but this one was so honest y faithful to her mother —Garcia Marquez grandmother—, Tranquilina Iguaran, that a complicity between them could have never been possible.
And this is how this book travels through an ocean of magical realism, impregnated of old traditions and memories, that cause laughs as well as indignation. It passes also through all the lives lived by Garcia Marquez himself, described through this fantastic characters, all of them build in dreaminess. The story is full in passion, love, hate and treason.
A 100% recommended book for the Latin-American literature lovers.