Of Love and Other Demons
By: Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase
On her twelfth birthday, Sierva Maria – the only child of a decaying noble family in an eighteenth-century South American seaport – is bitten by a rabid dog. Believed to be possessed, she is brought to a convent for observation. And into her cell stumbles Father Cayetano Delaura, who has already dreamed about a girl with hair trailing after her like a bridal train. As he tends to her with holy water and sacramental oils, Delaura feels something shocking begin to occur. He has fallen in love – and it is not long until Sierva Maria joins him in his fevered misery.
Unsettling and indelible, Of Love and Other Demons is an evocative, majestic tale of the most universal experiences known to woman and man.
It’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I’ve read three of his books to date–Love in the Time of Cholera, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and Chronicle of a Death Foretold–but because of the time in which I read them, I never got around to reviewing them here (okay, not entirely true, I did review Love in the Time of Cholera (review) but this was the early days of my blogging and I don’t think I quite appreciated it then; been meaning to re-read it since, actually). Anyhow, to rectify this, I picked up two of his books since, one of them being this title.
As I mentioned it’s been a while since I’ve read anything by Gabriel Garcia Marquez but what really struck me whilst reading this book was his writing: it reads like a fairytale. It’s dark at times, definitely, especially in the context of the society in which this particular story unfolds, but in addition to the mild layer of magical realism, there’s just something about the writing that feels like a fairytale. Yeah, sometimes the details feel like he’s writing off on a tangent, but it nonetheless informs the story in the way and the characters we’re following throughout.
This book also reads a bit like Romeo and Juliet (review) in that you know thw two lovers in question here are heading for tragedy, there’s just no happy ending in sight here. But it’s quite a dramatic read, with madness and excorcism and fraught family relations abound. Superstition on a local level and religious puritanism also play a huge role in the story and lends quite a commentary both to the time period and to the treatment of many of the characters in this novel. I felt bad for the way that Sierva Maria was treated, and it was interesting to read as Father Cayetano Delaura changes over time as he is haunted by his feelings for Sierva Maria. Marquez really captures those feelings and torments of love quite succinctly; you feel the madness to it.
I don’t know what else to say about Of Love and Other Demons. I really enjoyed it and the feelings that it evoked, and despite of the tragic ending it made sense in the context of the story. It’s also a fairly slim novel so it made for a somewhat quick read, which is always appreciated. Anyhow, my first Gabriel Garcia Marquez read in a while did not disappoint; I cannot wait to get on to Strange Pilgrims! 🙂