Having read One Hundred Years of Solitude last year, as I mentioned in my last review, I had some ideas or expectations of what I could find in Of Love and Other Demons. These expectations turned out to be more or less accurate, but to be honest I partly wish they hadn’t been.
So the story in Of Love and Other Demons is essentially that of a girl named Sierva Maria, who is locked up in a convent after her father is convinced that she has been possessed by demons after she is bitten by a rabid dog. During her time at the convent she is left in the care of Father Cayetano Delaura, who quickly falls in love with her which leads to their ultimately tragic fate. To be honest, I found this a bit too miserable. Love affairs are thwarted everywhere, married couples end up despising one another, children are neglected or spurned completely and a girl is subjected to a horrific fate because she is different and the Church can’t see that as anything other than demonic possession. It seems more like a tirade about intolerance and the dangers of religious fanaticism, instead of a story of a tragic love story. To be fair, the writing is solid and it is very quick and easy to read.
There are several characters who make a fairly important impact on the story, which surprised me considering that this is only about 140 pages long. There’s Sierva Maria’s parents, an apathetic man who makes a few attempts to bond with his daughter but ultimately sinks back into his solitude and an unlikeable woman who despises her daughter for looking like her father. There’s Abrenuncio, the only sane man in the story, who is the only doctor content with the fact that Sierva Maria won’t catch rabies. There’s the Bishop, who decides that Delaura is capable of exorcism and the Abbess who is convinced that every bit of bad luck or unusual circumstances is because of Sierva Maria. The only character who failed to have a real impact on me was Sierva Maria herself; because she appears so little compared to other characters, there is very little that the reader actually finds out about her other than that she makes really powerful first impressions.
Overall, this left me feeling neutral. I neither like it nor dislike it, which is kind of what I was expecting when I began reading. I would like to like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s work, but it just doesn’t seem to be. 3/5
Next review: Love is a Solitary Game by Esther Tusquets.