Human beings are not born once and for all on the day their mothers give birth to them, but life obliges them over and over again to give birth to themselves.
That quote could apply quite well to Florentino Ariza's love for Fermina Daza, which he keeps alive through constant rebirth for over half a century. Too bad I didn't like Fermina, and I sure didn't care for Florentino. I didn't even enjoy their love story after its first few years. I ended up rather unimpressed by Florentino's persistence and pseudo-fidelity. But there must be some sort of synergy at work, because it's still a really good book.
One major advantage the book has is its writing, which is absolutely beautiful (and I must give kudos to translator Edith Grossman, who did a brilliant job). García Márquez's lush descriptions are incredibly vivid and expressive, and his characters--though often possessing an almost Dickensian grotesqueness--are somehow also intensely lifelike. This book is meant to be savored, based on the writing alone.
Judging by the book's title, I was sure both love and cholera would play a big role in the story, but cholera is only mentioned around the periphery. It's really all about love. It could have been called Love is a Disease like Cholera, though. García Márquez examines a remarkable array of love relationships with an odd sort of realism and honesty, never idealizing any romance for very long.
The story was not quite what I expected (as I expected the chronicle of a heroic and tragic love story that spans decades . . . well, I got the "spans decades" part right, anyway) but what I discovered instead is well able to stand on its own merit.