One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Wow – students apparently have a nickname for this novel: “one million” years of solitude! Recommended by a colleague, I took up this challenge and embraced “solitude” in order to find my reward – a  promised great read. To say I was disappointed would be untrue; I suppose more honestly I would describe the whole experience as hard work.

The prose is undoubtedly poetic. The storyline is unarguably magical. The problem, simply put, is the vast number of similarly named characters – one hundred million “Aurelianos” would be a better title. Aureliano marries Jose Arcadio and they have two children named Arcadio and Aureliano Jose who each have their own offspring and name them, you guessed it, Aureliano Segundo and Jose Arcadio. No kidding. The family graphic on the opening page did little to settle the ongoing confusion while reading and at times I felt like just abandoning the whole village in their mystical “Macondo” – the place Ursula and Jose settle at the outset.

The story itself is one of generations and survival, war and loyalty, love and friendship – timeless themes. Oh, and the run of the mill fear of being born with a pig’s tail as a result of careless incest. No surprise when everyone has the same name!

Mystically intriguing and bizarrely memorable. The overall reading experience? Just preferable to solitude.

Rating: 3.6/5

Why? Confusing and odd – albeit surprisingly unforgettable!

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