Although Márquez’ next novel keeps the familiar theme of time in its title, it now gives first place to the word ‘love’. It tells, in a leisurely and protracted series of flashbacks, the story of the life-long love of the illegitimate, and once poor, Florentino Ariza for Fermina Daza. Their teenage love had been sustained largely by his letters as she was sent away by her ambitious father. But when they suddenly met after this long separation, her ‘illusion’ of love, as she then saw it, was immediately dispelled. She rejected him to marry, although also after a period of rejection, the socially well-placed doctor Juvenal Urbino, who was already some thirty years old. Much of the book is taken up with a study of this marriage and of the myriad affairs by which Florentino tries to fill the space left by Fermina while waiting one day to possess her. The present action of the novel opens on the day of Dr Urbino’s sudden death, in his eighties, while trying to retrieve his escaped parrot. His death allows Florentino to resume his courtship of Fermina. This time he is eventually successful and the story ends with them sailing up and down the Magdalena river, isolated by a cholera flag, on a boat owned by the steamship company of which Florentino is now the president.
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