This is my third adventure with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I read “Love in the the Time of Cholera” and really enjoyed it, but read “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and by the end of it felt as if I myself had lived through one hundred years of solitude: it was a chore. Thus, for me, “Of Love and Other Demons” would serve as the tiebreaker. The novel begins with a short introduction by Marquez about his inspiration for this novel, coming across the remains of a girl while on journalistic assignment to the emptying of a convents crypts.
“And so the first thing I saw when I entered the temple was a long line of stacked bones, heated by the savage October sun outing in through the holes in these roof and with no more identity than a name scrawled in pencil on a piece of paper.”
A little research has shown that the story Marquez tells before the start of the novel may be just that, a story, but it doesn’t make the novel any less intriguing. Sierra Maria is the neglected daughter of the Marquis of a noble family in decline. Ignored by both her selfish and boorish parents she is raised by the slaves and left to roam the grounds, and tell lies. After being bit by a dog, she is feared to be rabid and watched carefully. Unrelenting in their fear of disgracing their family name, the Marquis and his wife subject her to all manners of “healing” but her father feels that banishing her to a convent is the only way to save her life, or at least their family name.
Sierra Maria’s antics become the fodder for gossip and the nuns decide that she is possessed, and lock her away. Sent by the bishop, Father Cayetano Delaura is tasked with her impending exorcism, but finds Maria intoxicating and questions whether she is truly possessed.
“Delaura was aware of his own awkwardness with women. To him they seemed endowed with an untransferable use of reason that allowed then to navigate without difficulty among higher hazards of reason.”
Although a short novel, Marquez is able to cram an inordinate amount of detail and development with only a few pages. His novels are richly detailed, and ornate in language. I’m no vocabulary slouch, but I keep my dictionary app on hand when tackling his I writings. It is a rich tale, but my problem is that I get a little lost in the language. It is obviously a well-written story, and I recognize his talent and significand, but I think Marquez just isn’t my literary taste.