Thursday, October 20, 2011

From the Archives: One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez

I began keeping a reading journal several years before I began blogging. I find it interesting to sift through my thoughts of books that I read back then. My reviews were often brief and contained little substance, but I thought it'd be fun to document them here on my blog as well as share them with you. Here is one from July 2005:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez
Harper, 1967; Fiction, 458 pgs

Gabriel García Márquez weaves a story about the rise and fall of the town of Macondo through the lives of one of the founding families, the Buendia family. It is a story about dreams, love, betrayal and family. Mr. Márquez is able to write in a lyrical style, telling a sometimes sad and at times humorous tale. The novel flowed well and was not hefted down by description, as some authors tend to do when writing in such a way. However, the story did not captivate me and several times throughout I considered giving up on the book. I felt as if I was unable to fully appreciate the book, as if I was skimming the surface and missing out on the deeper meanings hidden in the text. When commenting about the book to my husband, I wondered aloud if perhaps I was caught up in the praise of the book, expecting more than was really there. He asked if it was something akin to looking for the emperor’s new clothing.

The book covered a lot of territory time wise, spanning several generations, and Mr. Márquez successfully kept the novel’s length reasonable, avoiding turning it into a book of needless epic proportions. I found the characters hard to follow at times, in part because of their similar names. There is a lesson here in naming children repeatedly after ancestors, I think, especially if the family story is to be put to paper! I’ve read reviews suggesting this was a purposeful ploy by the author to further show the connectedness of the characters to their ancestors’ fate, but, however true that may be, it still was confusing.

My impression was that the novel demonstrates how history, even within a family, is likely to repeat itself, how our ancestors, even those we may never have met, have already played a part in who and what we will become as well as how we live our lives. Despite the sometimes arduous task of keeping the characters straight, I found the characters and their stories mostly interesting, my favorite being the matriarch of the family, Úrsala. With each character, came the realization that they were very much alone, left to their own thoughts, broken dreams, and lost loves, leading many to find peace in their solitude later in life.

I try not to go into a book with too many expectations, but I did have high hopes for this one. I was disappointed overall, finding reading it more of a chore than a pleasure, but in the end I am glad I did take the time to read and finish it.

Source: From my own personal collection, bought and paid for by myself.


© 2011, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.

9 comments:

  1. Oh, I am sorry to hear that you didn't totally love this one! I read it many years before starting my blog as well, and remember being totally engrossed. I do agree that it was a bit of a tough read, but I really fell in love with the story. A great and very candid review. Thanks!

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  2. My biggest problem with this book was the names. I got so confused because they were repeated or variations were used. I understand why, but it drove me nuts. Otherwise, I really enjoyed this book!

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  3. If you were disappointed then I will be taking this one from my shelves!! I picked it up for a quarter a few years ago...not going to spend my time reading it.

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  4. I read this one years ago with my book club and I too found it more of a chore than anything else. However, many in my group really enjoyed it.

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  5. I tried this one not that long ago and just couldn't get into it. It was the right book at the wrong book, I think.

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  6. I really enjoyed this book when I read it, more than you did. It's not my favorite Marquez book but I had difficulty putting it down when I was reading it.

    It's one of those books that gets mixed reviews as it either connects with a reader or doesn't despite being well-written. I find that so interesting.

    I guess because it's a book by Marquez, an author whose writing is praised a lot and the critics seem to love, readers expect to love this book and his others.

    Have you read any other books by Gabriel Garcia Marquez?

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  7. I had this one on my shelf for years and after tryng the first few chapters decided that I was never going to finish it and gave it away. I think I made the right choice :)

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  8. Thanks everyone for your comments! It really does seem to be one of those books that a person either likes or doesn't like. I am glad I am not alone in not taking to it though. When I read it, everyone around me was raving about it--so I kind of felt like I was missing something.

    For awhile I thought maybe it was the magical realism piece that was the problem. However, I have since discovered that wasn't true.

    Amy - I haven't read anything else by the author. I'm afraid I was put off of him because of this book. And frankly, his other books just didn't really interest me subject wise. Maybe someday, but not anytime soon.

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  9. Ugh. I tried this one several times in the 1970s. I doubt I ever got past page 30. Just totally not for me.

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