[Rehash of an old post, I wrote on Aug 29, 2009 on my old-blog]
[Not a review, more like a journal to not forget my impression as soon as I finished the book!]
I have always been intrigued and amused at this book and the reason for naming it that way. And after having heard from friends that this was a beautiful book, I knew that someday I would read it. Well… today was the day, and it took me precisely 5 hours and 2 sittings to finish it(and its 3 AM right now!).
And my, what a book!
Truly a work of pure mastery, the play of the characters and how they are interrelated is an art of fiction which can be woven only by masters as great as Marquez himself!
Though it is a small book, the characters, their names, how they are related to each other and what they all do is so inter-related that I got confused a 100 times during the book and had to refer to the sheet which had the family tree.
I generally pick out the characters I like from the books I read, but this one is so magical that I cannot point to one character. Each of them is unique and special in its own way, that I am going to make a note of one trait of each character that I am going to remember from now.
The oldest Buendio for his never ending search for knowledge, Melquaides for his brilliance and for writing the whole story of Buendios 100 years in advance, Ursula for a strength and resilience a woman should have, Colonel Aureliano for nothing specific but the sheer manner in which he character evolves from a shy kid to a Colonel who wages 32 wars and loses all of them, Amaranta for her ways to love the men she can never have, Rebeca for reminding how an insecure child can grow up to, Santa Sofia for her devotion to the house and the invisible way of contributing to the house and leaving it(she reminded me of an aunt of mine!), Aureliano Segundo for his boisterous way of living life, Petra Cotes for her love on Aureliano and how she ensures that Fernanda will never be hungry, Fernanda herself for butchering Meme’s life so wickedly all for the uptightness, and the youngest Aureliano for actually deciphering the parchments!
I think I particularly loved the way Marquez described Ursula’s resistance in never accepting defeat, her growing old very sanely and gracefully, Rebeca’s protrayal, for writing the endless singsong buzz Fernanda gives to Aureliano Segundo, for describing the mature love he and Petra Cotes share towards the end of their lives, his determination to send Amaranta Ursula to Brussels, at how the lives of the Segundo twins is entwined even in death, the description of the mad love shared by Amaranta Ursula and Aureliano, the oldest Buendio getting crazy in the guilt of having murdered someone, the significance of dust and ants towards the end of the story and the whole rise and fall of Macando – at how no one ever died there initially to how no one from that village lives at all! And of course, the distinct way in which the title actually signifies solitude experienced by each of the characters in spite of being in such a huge family.
At various pages of this novel, my heart ached for specific characters like they were in real life – for Amaranta and how she kept on warding off her suitors, Rebeca for her engagement with Pietro Crespi, Ursula’s undying effort to find out the real owner of the treasure and how the treasure actually gets used, how Aureliano Segundo looks out for the treasure when he needs money, how Petra Cotes does not even get to see the last glimpse of her love, Meme’s shattered love, the last Aureliano not knowing his origin till about his last breath, Fernanda’s indifference towards the rest of the members, Santa Sofia’s work for the house, the house itself which seemed to have a character of its own.. all of these touched me like they were happening to people I knew in my real life!
And I could really feel the chill down my spine as i read the lines – The first of the line is tied to a tree and the last is being eaten by the ants.