Fifty-one years, nine months and four days have passed since Fermina Daza rebuffed hopeless romantic Florentino Ariza’s impassioned advances and married Dr Juvenal Urbino instead. During that half-century, Flornetino has fallen into the arms of many delighted women, but has loved none but Fermina. Having sworn his eternal love to her, he lives for the day when he can court her again.
When Fermina’s husband is killed trying to retrieve his pet parrot from a mango tree, Florentino seizes his chance to declare his enduring love. But can young love find new life in the twilight of their lives?
Okay. This one is going to be a difficult review to write. But this book has sat with me for a few days now, so I’m going to try and finally write it. Let me start by saying my boyfriend Mark bought me this book, and when talking to him about why he bought me this book, he told me even though he wouldn’t say he ‘enjoyed’ it or even ‘liked’ it, this book has stayed with him for a very long time.
And that is probably the easiest way to describe this book – in a lot of ways, it is difficult to enjoy. But it will stay with you for a long time. And it will make you think about love, and passion, and sex, and life, and age, and death. It will force you to sit with and face all of these aspects of life.
Tell him yes. Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later,
One of the things I absolutely adored about this book is you can pretty much open it on any page and it will read beautifully. Here’s a page of quotes if you want to have a read through and see how truly gorgeous the writing is. The writing honestly held this book up for me, and even though it took me a long time to read (in comparison to how much I normally read), it didn’t feel slow in any way. In fact, when I was reading this book, I felt so enveloped and involved in the story. It felt visceral. I was right there.
But the reason why this book is getting 3 stars rather than 4 or 5 is because there is a few problems I had with it. For a start, this book begins focusing on Florentino and Fermina when they first meet. I believe Fermina is 14 in this (or at least, she is still in high school), and Florentino is 3 years older, which would make him 17. I found this creepy, and it only got worse throughout the book. There was one sentence later on in the story that I really didn’t appreciate – I couldn’t tell you exactly what it was but it followed along the lines of ‘when a woman tells yes once [to sex], she only needs persuading to do it again’. There are so many issues surrounding consent here that I don’t think I need to discuss here.
There is a later aspect of this book that plays along the same lines and is again, incredibly problematic, and I think if you’ve read this book you’ll know exactly which part I mean. I think the problem I had here is you are probably not meant to like Florentino. Which is fine, but I will admit I really struggle when the main character of a book is not easy to like. I can usually put this aside if there is another character to root for, but I just didn’t feel like we saw enough of other characters for me to do that.
because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no.
As you can probably tell, I had a lot of mixed feelings about this one. I loved it and I also loathed it. But there is one thing I can say for sure – it made me think, and it will stay with me for a very long time.
3 out of 5 stars
May your shelves forever overflow with books! ☽