Love in the Time of Cholera (1985; English translation 1988)Read about another book on the list.
The most approachable of García Márquez’s works, this charming novel is set in a thinly veiled Cartagena in the early 20th century, and is based on the courtship of his parents. It follows the love triangle between young lovers Florentino, Fermina and an elderly doctor called Juvernal Urbino. García Márquez spends a luxuriant 100 pages on the young lovers’ courtship: Florentino sends Fermina letters that are “a dictionary of compliments, inspired by books he had learned by heart because he had read them so often”. In a twist that appals some readers and amuses others, Fermina abruptly loses interest in the boy and instead marries the man her father chooses – Dr Urbino. This indulgent yet melancholy work, the first to be translated by Edith Grossman, examines love from many different angles. One of its pleasures is how it shows love as both superfluous and necessary.
Love in the Time of Cholera also made Jill Boyd's top six list of memorable marriage proposals in literature, the Christian Science Monitor's list of six novels about grand passions, Ann Brashares' six favorite books list, and Marie Arana's list of the best books about love; it is one of Hugh Thomson’s top ten books on South American journeys.