I came to this book not really knowing anything about it, other than the fact that it is comes highly recommenced and that it often appears of lists of ‘100 books to read before you die’ and their ilk. So other than expecting it to be good, I approached it with a relatively open mind.
What I discovered was not so much a novel as a love letter; it is a love letter addressed to love itself. The story focuses on three individuals and charts their experiences of love over the course of a lifetime. Many varieties of love are explored: faithful, unfaithful, obsessive, innocent and (a warning for the more cautious reader) this involves some descriptions of sex and, towards the end of the book, an account of paedophilia. That said, it was never pornographic or particularly vulgar; it was carefuly done.
Marquez writes in a very vivid way, with visceral descriptions of his characters and settings. So even though there is very little ‘action’ in the book, there are passages of extreme floridity, where the reader is just immersed in his world, drawn in by the beautiful phraseology. I read this as an English translation although it was clearly translated by an American, which has resulted in the book being punctuated by spelling and grammatical errors and one or two sentences that simply make no sense whatsoever, but don’t let that distract from overall quality of the book. Marquez’s writing is just too good to be ruined by the translation.
I cannot really recommend it enough to you. It is not a particularly short book, but reading it never felt like a chore. It was a joy to go through from start to finish and it is a book I am sure I will read again in the future.