Love in the Time of Cholera is considered a classic by many, and hated by a few. I decided to write my thoughts on this novel, as opposed to many other books I’ve read, because my stance on the characters change immensely according to whether I am being cynical or romantic, and whether I am comparing it to my real life versus a life I wish I lived.
Florentino is a disgusting man who was love-struck with Fermina at a young age and couldn’t see that some loves should be acknowledged and moved past. He was creepy in his interactions with most women after Fermina ended their engagement, and the ultimate suicide of his youngest love (how very Humbert Humbert of you, Florentino) was a mirror of how he felt when Fermina broke his heart when he was young. The sadness he felt when America died (because of his treatment and dismissal of her) was well-deserved, because anyone who so easily dismisses a person they treated in “love” deserves every bit of pain they may feel when that person dies.
If the comparison that love is a disease holds true, then Florentino was a plague on the women of this (Colombian??) town. He preyed on the lonely, the old, and the young, and not all of them lived through experiencing the disease he brought to their doorstep. He was thoughtless in his interactions, even if he had less than terrible intentions.
While Fermina’s husband cheated on her during their marriage, so did Florentino in his over hundreds of sexual partners during the 51 years, nine months, and four days he waited for her. The split of his sexual fidelity with his soul’s fidelity proves to anyone not disillusioned by love that people are inherently capable of fucking without feeling.
Florentino truly did love Fermina, and always wished the best for her as he watched from afar. He didn’t meddle in her marriage. He watched her grow older and patiently waited for her husband to die. He made sure to keep his exploitation of women from reaching her ears, and she was always first in his heart. Is this not what every woman wants? He loved her when she was young and loved her when she was old. What happened in-between didn’t matter. The disintegration of flesh in the end while still loving each other and coming together in companionship means more than the years of passion he created with all of his sexual exploits.
Fermina was unhappy for the majority of her marriage. Her husband was stable and provided for her, but they were never romantic and the passion abated very early. Their relationship was one of stature. Her husband was not capable of the same level of love Florentino was capable of, but who is to say that Florentino would have been better for her during that time? She never forgot Florentino either, in a twist. However, I wonder if Fermina was so stuck within her own conveniences that she simply accepted whatever man was around her and never truly felt love.
Leona Cassiani’s desire and love for her rapist is just an odd nugget of information.