Friday, May 21, 2010

Of Love and other Demons - Gabriel Gracia Marquez

I am in two minds about this book: either loved it or I hated it and I just can't figure out which. Of love and other demons is funny that way. It draws you in: into this bewildering, resplendent fable till you can hardly make out what is going to happen and just when you get all heated up and start rooting for the protagonists that for some reason you simply can't seem to like, it all ends. Well, I guess I loved the book but for the life of me I do not know why.

Of love and other demons by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a novella about Sierva Maria, the daughter of Ygnacio, the Marquiz of a little town in what is now Columbia. Born to indifferent parents who hate each other, Sierva is left largely to the mercy of Ygnacio's slaves and with them she grows up, absorbing their tongues and their practices, indifferent to the white man. On her twelfth birthday, Sierva Maria goes to the market with one of the slave women, where she is bitten by a rabid dog. The dog bites many people and soon the entire town is gripped in a frenzy: the slaves who have been bit have been spirited away by their kin to be treated with the medicines passed down to them. Sierva seems to be the only person who hasn't been affected by the dog bite. Day after day he father watches her closely for some sign of madness but she is much the same: spending all her days in the slave quarter, ignoring a timid, tremulous father and a mother addicted to cacao and fermented honey. Soon the town is convinced that she is possessed by the demon and she is locked away in the convent to be exorcised. The only person who believes in her sanity is priest who is sent to cure her but how will he prove that? What will happen to Sierva Maria and what will happen to Father Cayetano who has fallen in love with Sierva, the girl with the copper bright hair that brushes the soles of her feet?

This is one of those books that you will read, at first for the sake of the story itself: it is uncomfortable and blinding. Once you are done with the book however, you begin to appreciate the master that Marquez is with his words; so many themes have been explored in this book and all of them are many layered. I personally did not like Father Cateyano or Sierva Maria but I wanted them to have a happy ending with all my heart. That is the power of Marquez's writing. The people in this book ride a fine line between love and passion, life and death itself and who is to say what wins? In Marquez's New Grenada, anything is possible.


Shweta said...

I very well understand how it is to both love and hate a book when it is coming for Marquez. Both of his books I have read brought out similar reactions from me :)

Kals said...

Yay another purple book cover here :) I've never read Marquez because I've felt his books aren't my type. Are his books worth trying? Which one would you recommend I start with? :)

Hannah Stoneham said...

I love Marquez usually but have not read this one so i will reserve judgement! I enjoyed reading your candid review very much and would like to try this one myself. Thank you so much for sharing


Anonymous said...

I didn't really get along well with Marquez the first time I read him in Memories Of My Melancholy Whores. But people tell me not to give up till I read Love In The Time Of Cholera. Unable to pick it up, though it's lying with me :(

i saw this one too in the book store, but didn't pick it up!

bikerguy said...

well, on first read, the story reminded me of the ultra-dumb, moronic, horrible movie... "Delhi 6" ;)
sorry for the comparison, but maybe the story as such is that bad....hmmm the writing might be good for you to see the power of Marquez's writing, so good for that sake :)

Vaishnavi said...

@Shweta - You are right about that...Marquez really confounds in that respect :)

@Kals - You should definitely try Marquez, start with either Love in the time of Cholera or One Hundred Years of solitude

@Hannah - Absolutely my pleasure, give this one too a try :)

@Priya - You will enjoy love in the time of cholera I think, try it out :)

@avi - It wasn;t bad...just.....different....Marquez's books are always different...