Originally Posted by RoccoPaco
However, it has been a while since I have been so disappointed in a book!
I will have to agree! It may be because the one I read is an ENglish transaltion, instead of one in my mother tongue, Italian, which I suspect works out better than Engelish; it may be because I have foallen completely out of love with magical realism, which I used to enoy enormously; it may be because I found the main themes depressing (death, really), but I did not like this book very much.
On magic realism, once you stop going with it, it is difficult to condone the "jerkiness" in the way the plot develops - for instance, I could not see what is the turning point in the relationship between Juvenal and Fermina Daza that pushes her to marry him. I would have also loved to see more of Ariza's letters to the widow Fermina, to get some feeling of what his thoughts were.
And I must echo the points already made above that to I find this very far from being an exploration of love - I really read it as a book about death. There is vitality
in the sense of satisfying urges - mostly sexual ones, and there is no companionship in "loving" relationships, which feel very much like a flight from boredom.
Death approaches relentlessly, and the characters in the novel looks for something to distract them from the approaching doom - what is moving their life is not apparent: there isn't much role for the children, for knowing what e.g. the relationship between Juvenal and Fermina is about, or indeed any relationship. Sure, many things happen in these characters' lives, but what makes them tick?
Originally Posted by Hamlet53
All of the characters have a certain ambiguity of motive and desire which makes them very realistic and profoundly sympathetic.
This is precisely what I read in a completely opposite way: perhaps it is because I find myself deeply critical of the magic realism approach now, but I felt GGM left a lot of gaps in the narration that I could not fill myself, so that to me the relationships appear quite artificial.
But I'll have to ponder much more on all that you've written, especially Hamlet and toomanybooks, as you guys have a very different take from mine, so that's food for thought.