This book is inspired by a tale writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez heard from his grandmother about a 12-year-old girl who died of rabies. It is a pretty short novel in its length with elements of almost magical realism running throughout the story. The story takes place in the 18th century in South America.
The story Of Love and Other Demons is of a 12-year-old girl from a decaying marquis family is bitten by a rabid dog. She shows no signs of being affected by it and thus, is declared to be possessed and sent to a convent for an exorcism. Sierva Maria is the only child of her parents. She is raised by the West Indian slaves hence, well acquainted with their customs and languages. Her demeanor and behavior are considered to be unsophisticated which leads to the belief that she might be possessed. Father Cayetano Delaura meets Sievra Maria at the convent and he is intrigued by her. Both of them develop an unlikely and forbidden affection for each other.
The novel starts off slow with lots of descriptions and back-story which makes the events that followed even more surprising for me. Sievra Maria has some sort of aura about her which is magical or supernatural but it does have some explanation which is ignored by other characters. Believing she is possessed by a demon, she is taken unwillingly to a convent. The treatment of her at the convent is horrible and can be difficult to read at times. She is traumatized and ill-treated because she is different than what she is supposed to be. Father Cayetano Delaura, is a diocese librarian who is the only one that gentle with Sierva Maria. He doesn’t believe she needs an exorcism and develops a passion for her.
Sierva Maria is almost three decades younger Fathe Delaura so their romance is today’s day and age can seem inappropriate even with a setting so rooted in magical realism. As I read further, that kind of passed but not completely. Their emotions and feelings towards each other are innocent and pure; a sense of true affection between them can be felt. The clash of cultures is a prominent theme in the story; the traditions and beliefs of the slaves versus those of the Spanish and Christians. Sierva Maria has an understanding of the culture of the slaves as she is raised by them but this is constantly questioned and believed to be unsophisticated by those around her.
The love story between Sierva Maria and Fathe Cayetano Delaura doesn’t start well into the story. Leaving the age difference thing aside, it is actually well developed. The way the characters of Sierva Maria and Father Cayetano Delaura are written, make them seem genuine and sincere which makes you root for them. The setting of the novel is so unique yet real. It seems to be a style of Marquez’s writing. As I said before, the element of magical realism is woven throughout with the use of symbols, dreams and the setting.
I really liked this book. The narration and even the setting I found it to be similar to One Hundred Years of Solitude in a way. The book is emotional, tragic and at times surreal. Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s writing transports you to a completely new world yet it resembles to the world one we live in.
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And the fact that this book is way shorter than One Hundred Years of Solitude and Love in the Time of Cholera 🙂 Of Love and Other Demons is a Garcia Marquez that is easier to understand and appreciate but still written with the same energy and bravado as the other two.
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