Confession: it’s been a really, really long time since I read this, and I’ve read six other books since, so I’m not too hot on the details now. Solitude took me longer than I’d have liked to read; although it isn’t a long book, the fact that the twenty or so main characters have only three names between them combined with the intensive prose makes it a draining read, and I struggled to manage more than a couple dozen pages at a time. Despite this, it’s a rewarding book.
A Hundred Years of Solitude begins with eccentric would be inventor Jose Arcadio Buendia, who founds the isolated village of Macondo in South America, and ends with the lives of his great-great-great-great-grandchildren. Throughout the generations, the Arcadio family battles with the same problems over and over again. Thus, despite the technological advances of the age, bringing train links and phone lines to the city, the family becomes more and more broken and uncertain as the years progress.
Marquez demonstrated a certain whimsy of narrative that pleased me, and I enjoyed the way his sentences read. Solitude isn’t exactly all roses and rainbows, but after the harsh reality of Birdsong I certainly appreciated reading something more mystical and ambiguous. This is a seriously ambitious book, and a real pleasure to read.