Before I even began, I knew that this would be one of the most difficult book reviews to write. Partly because this book is well-revered and partly because I realize that the theme of the book can be directly linked to the book-reading experience. I wouldn’t claim to have such influence, but judging something with incomplete knowledge is also something I refrain from doing. Which is why this time, I read some book summaries online, and researched a bit about the origins of this book before I sat down to write this review. It was important because so many times I try to get a ‘feel’ of the book online before beginning to read it, so that I don’t feel disappointed by the book later. This feeling might seem weird to a lot of people but I believe the distinction between experimenting with genres and wasting time is always a smart choice.
This above introduction almost works like a disclaimer. Of Love and Other Demons, is neither difficult or too complex to warrant such treatment. But it was unlike any other book that I had ever read, which proves two things – One, I am brave enough to try out new styles of writing, and two, that I cannot wait to read more of the same. I was not instantly converted to a Garcia Marquez fan as some people are. It took me a while after having read the book, to understand the myths, beliefs, and underlying symbolism depicted in the almost century-old Columbia.
It is the story of a young girl with very long hair, Sierva Maria, living in Columbia who is bitten by a dog on her twelfth birthday when she goes to the market. Even though her wounds heal properly, her father (the Marquis) and the local bishop believe that she might be possessed by the devil. Even the abbess that takes her in finds something evil in all her actions and her to be the source of all malice in her convent. Sierva’s mother, who had never been affectionate to her, agreed with the fact that Sierva was doomed and was of no comfort to her. And, since Sierva had been raised by Black servants, she had seen all cultures – Christian, Spanish and Black and was in the middle of all their myths and beliefs. A young priest, Delaura, who is assigned to exorcise her, slowly falls in love with Sierva. To elaborate what happens next would be to give away the whole plot. Needless to say, it is a different story with a complex ending.
When I first finished the book, I wasn’t sure if I really liked it or not, making the review process a little bit long too. And then I went back to understand exactly what is portrayed in the book. The book is an easy-read, even while it handles such a heavy topic-love. Yes! It does not seem like so, but it revolves around how the little girl is loved by her father, not loved by her mother, adored by her servants and loved too by the priest sent to exorcise her, try to make her okay. But how it is love itself that becomes a demon in her life. There is probably no demon possessing her, just rabies(maybe, all at reader discretion). Ultimately, we learn that it is love that descends this earthly sphere. If you can follow and resonate with the symbolism outlined in Sierva’s story, you will be able to see how Garcia Marquez carefully guides you to make these conclusions yourself! It leaves you thinking for a while after you’ve put down the book, about Sierva’s fate, about the behavior of everyone else for a little girl, and at the beliefs that a simple dog bite could be demonic possession. Garcia Marquez could be an acquired taste, but a posh and life-changing one.
My Rating: 4 out of 5
Complexity Rating: 3 out of 5
General Pace of the book: 3 out of 5
Recommendation: Everyone on the internet will recommend it to you, and so do I.