Ok - enough of my cryptic elusiveness. This novel is about an old man who has never been in love and on his 90th birthday decides the one thing he would like to gift himself is an underage virgin. Said virgin turns out to be 14 and said 90-year-old falls in love with her before he ever makes love to her. Creepy preface, I know (hello comparison to Lolita!) but this mans love for the young girl, who he begins to call Delgadina, prompts him to reconsider and evaluate the conflict of growing old but feeling young, death, love and beauty. Ultimately the old man is forever changed by his love for Delgadina.
But then, I'm not sure if he even loved her at all. I'm not sure if we're meant to believe he did. Maybe he did, or maybe it was just the idea of her. After all, the title of the book is Memories of My Meloncholy Whores and I think thats what this man feel in love with; his memories of this girl. The fact that in his own mind she was whatever he wanted her to be. He romanticized the idea of her and didn't really get to know her at all. Upon the girl's 15th birthday the old man comments, "It troubled me that she was real enough to have birthdays". And later:
"From then on I had her in my memory with so much clarity that I could do what I wanted with her. I changed the color of her eyes according to my state of mind: the color of water when she woke, the color of syrup when she laughed, the color of light when she was annoyed. I dressed her according to the age and condition that suited my changes of mood... Today I know it was not a hallucination but one more miracle of the first love of my life at the age of ninety.Which of course, lends itself to the idea that the very thought of someone and how you make them out to be in your head can actually become an ideal version of that perons. That maybe you have fallen in love with the idea of someone, or the person that you create them to be, rather than the actual soul behind the pretty face. Again, while the premise itself is a bit disturbing, the ideas and feelings behind this novel are very real and very relatable. In a strange way that I can't describe Marquez invited me into this sick and twisted love story and left me thinking "oh my God... this is soooo fantasic". We are never meant to understand the old man as unbalanced or dangerous - he is simply a man who has never been in love and has found it in this girl.So, I recommend this book to anyone who can get passed the 90-year-old obessed with a 14 year-old girl.
Published by: Vintage
Year of First Edition: 2004