TITLE: One Hundred Years Of Solitude
AUTHOR: Gabriel García Márquez
GENRE: Magical Realism, Adult, Literary Fiction, Historical Fiction
RATING: 2/5 Stars
Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.
Gabriel García Márquez's great masterpiece is the story of seven generations of the Buendía family and of Macondo, the town they have built. Though little more than a settlement surrounded by mountains, Macondo has its wars and disasters, even its wonders and its miracles. A microcosm of Columbian life, its secrets lie hidden, encoded in a book, and only Aureliano Buendía can fathom its mysteries and reveal its shrouded destiny. Blending political reality with magic realism, fantasy and comic invention, One Hundred Years of Solitude is one of the most daringly original works of the twentieth century.
What I Liked:
- This was certainly a unique and interesting reading experience. The story covers a lot of lifetimes and let me tell you, things do not get boring in this family. The novel works much in the same way that dreams do: strange things happen but they aren't questioned. Apparently in the world of this book, girls floating off never to be seen again, mad men chained and forgotten for decades under trees and men turning invisible to the eyes of the people out to kill them are just normal, everyday occurrences. We don't find out why these things happen as such because no one takes much notice. It was so bizarre, but I think I liked it!
- Márquez certainly knows how to write. Some of the quotes were beautiful, and although his style seemed factual and blunt, I felt like he was consistently alluding to a deeper meaning. It was really nice to read and there were some lovely quotes in this book that commented on all aspects of life and the human condition.
What I Disliked:
- To start with, this book took me a long time to get into. I don't like slow starters and this was definitely one. There was many an occasion where I felt like abandoning it altogether and waiting to read it another time, but my policy to finish all books that I read stopped me. It got much better and much easier to read as the story progressed but I would have liked to have been invested from the beginning.
- My main problem with this book was a pretty big one. As more and more children were born, they were all being given the same names! Seriously, all of the men were called José, Arcadio or Aureliano and the girls Amaranta, Remedios or Úrsula (often they will have a mixture of these names). The Buendías really like to keep names in the family. This is all very well, but what it means is that it was very hard for me to keep track of which one was currently being discussed. It didn't help that even when characters died, their ghosts would often reappear just to add more confusion. At one point there were four Aurelianos that were consistently being mentioned and it drove me insane! Even the family began to get sick of everyone being called the same thing but that didn't seem to stop them!
- The story itself doesn't seem to take you anywhere as such. Yes I mentioned that a lot of interesting things happened, but they were just random events. I didn't feel like there was a plot-line as such, just a series of occurrences that happened in the family's everyday lives that didn't really conclude or end in anything concrete. I suspect this was a purposeful move but it left me feeling a little frustrated.
I had very mixed thoughts on this book. It is certainly different, unique and I can see how the writing style makes it a classic of it's genre. Yet although I did enjoy it, it didn't quite meet the expectations I had of it. It wasn't a bad book but I had been so excited about it and it was very different to what I had expected. In the end I was a little disappointed by how little this book impacted me. I am told often that this book is not Márquez's easiest work to get into and so I should perhaps try another of his books.