Monday, September 21

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude


Title: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Author: Gabriel García Márquez

Pages: 448

Summary: The story follows 100 years in the life of Macondo, a village founded by José Arcadio Buendía and occupied by descendants all sporting variations on their progenitor's name: his sons, José Arcadio and Aureliano, and grandsons, Aureliano José, Aureliano Segundo, and José Arcadio Segundo. Then there are the women--the two Úrsulas, a handful of Remedios, Fernanda, and Pilar--who struggle to remain grounded even as their menfolk build castles in the air. If it is possible for a novel to be highly comic and deeply tragic at the same time, then One Hundred Years of Solitude does the trick. Civil war rages throughout, hearts break, dreams shatter, and lives are lost, yet the effect is literary pentimento, with sorrow's outlines bleeding through the vibrant colors of García Márquez's magical realism. Consider, for example, the ghost of Prudencio Aguilar, whom José Arcadio Buendía has killed in a fight. So lonely is the man's shade that it haunts Buendía's house, searching anxiously for water with which to clean its wound. Buendía's wife, Úrsula, is so moved that "the next time she saw the dead man uncovering the pots on the stove she understood what he was looking for, and from then on she placed water jugs all about the house."

My Rating: 7.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: Although I enjoyed the book, and Gabriel García Márquez’s has beautiful writing, I don’t think the book is amazing as it’s hyped up to be. Worth reading? Yes! But it’s not as amazing as I expected it to be, it really didn’t live up to the hype or praise everyone has given it.

The writing style is beautiful, if the writing wasn’t as good as it was, I probably would have given up on the book, because, the story it self is rather boring at times. This is a book where you need to have patience, because it takes a while for anything to happen. I enjoyed reading about the characters and following them through there lives, but no character really hit me as memorable, and the characters are easy to forget once you finish the book. But it was enjoyable enough to watch the family though the generations grow and see how their lives play out, but I think that was mainly due to the writing style.

The writing style in the book flows so well, and lyrically, that it makes it hard to give up on the story, even if it was boring, because the author was so talented, and I think I’ll probably like some of his other books a lot more, where more events or there is more substance to the stories.

Would I recommend it to read: I’d probably recommend it to read, especially if you love beautiful, flowing and lyrical writing styles. But if you like books where a lot of “excitement happens” and are turned off of books that are slow moving, then it’s not going to be for you.

What to read next: I'd say check out other books by the author, I've had my eyes on Autumn of the Patriarch for a while now. Also The Stone Diaries and A Good House have similarities, in that they follow the characters over a period of time.

Challenges: 1% Well Read Challenge, 100+ Challenge


13 comments:

  1. I also didn't like One Hundred Years of Solitude at all - and felt it wasn't quite worth all the praise heaped upon it and all the hype surrounding it. I sold my copy. Then a few years later my son had to read it for a college class. He's not allowed to sell his copy until my daughter finishes up any and all English classes she'll be taking because I refuse to buy another copy of it.

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  2. I'm looking forward to Love in the Time of Cholera more than this, but since I heard this is magical realism, I'm looking forward to it more. We're reading it in my book club next year.

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  3. Sadly this is a book I haven't read yet but its on my shelf to be read. I am not sure why I haven't read it. Perhaps one day :)

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  4. I read it in school. Without a teacher to guide me (especially as so many characters have smiliar/the same name!) I probably never would have made it though. The imagery is fascinating, but the story turns such circles on itself I have trouble keeping anything straight.

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  5. I'm sorry you didn't love the book. I thought it was beautiful and loved the writing, but you are right in the fact that not much happens. I didn't really mind it because sometimes I really like meandering reads, but if you prefer a lot of action, I can see this might not be a favorite. The only part I had a real problem with was all the similarity in the names, after awhile I got used to it, but it niggled at first.

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  6. I don't mind books without action, but when nothing happens for a good 150 pages, you want something, even just a better explained death scene would have worked.

    Jeane - you hit it right on the button with your comment.

    The similarity in names is another big problem, but was one you go used to. It just didn't have a lot happening in the book, a lot of day to day life stuff, but doesn't explain in depth.... bah. I can't seem to get the words right for this today. Sorry folkks.

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  7. This book has been on my "to-read" list for a LONG time, and somehow I keep forgetting about it. I loved "Love in the Time of Cholera," so I'm sad to hear this wasn't as fantastic.

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  8. I have this one on my pile, I'm looking forward to reading it. Great review!

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  9. I think hype can sometimes hurt a book. I too was so looking forward to this one and while yes, the writing was gorgeous, there were some drag-along parts. And the characters were a little confusing at times as far as who did what since so many names overlapped. Perhaps it is the translation.

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  10. I really enjoyed this. I read parts of it in spanish and I read parts of it aloud with my then husband-to-be. It made it a together project and I liked that. I hope to revisit it some day. I think it's a book to be experienced, not summarized.

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  11. i've had this book on my TBR pile for the longest time. I keep picking it up but always get a mental block thinking that it's a hard and heavy read and put it back on the shelf again.:(

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  12. I have this but have not read it yet. I have been hesitant about it, though, because I recently read Love in the Time of Cholera and I felt underwhelmed. Maybe I'd enjoy it more if the books were not so hyped up, who knows.

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  13. I agree with a lot of what you have to say in this. It was definitely Marquez's writing that kept me in it. I too found it long, but hey, it does cover 100 years person by person. The tie-it-all-up ending made me happy that I read it all the way through. Check out my review/opinion if you care to at mgarr100.blogspot.com

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