To enjoy this book you have to enter the mind and world of this old, old man, living the last years of his life in poverty in the once-grand, decaying house of his youth. His career never rose above second-rate reporter, he never married and never even fell in love. His personal relationships with women were limited to the whores he paid for. A most unfulfilled life.
But then, for a present for his 90th birthday, he gives himself a 14 year-old virgin, a would-be whore. Exhausted from menial labour and drugged-up with valerian by the brothel madame, she sleeps every night they spend together and for the first time in his life he falls in love. In love with the idea of his sleeping beauty.
This is a poetic, sensual book that many reviewers, unable to see beyond their own ideas of fitness, have condemned as tawdry, a paean to pedophilia and just plain sick. But it isn’t. It’s the last flowering of a rose; touched by frost it should have died but instead is more glorious, more beautiful because it is so unseasonal, a real surprise. What it says about the nature of men’s love for young beauty is age-old: look good, be quiet and demure, and let him be the dominant one, is taken to an extreme here. It worked for Snow White, it worked for the Sleeping Beauty and it works for Delgadina too.
Love changes everything. Despite his 90 years, the old, old man walks with a spring in his step, his head held high and smiling to the world. He has an epiphany, ‘sex is the consolation one has for not finding enough love’ and writes about love in his weekly columns in the local newspaper. This brings him the fame, respect and friendship he had craved all his life. In his 91st year, at last, he has found fulfillment.
Ultimately, Gabriel Garcia Marquez says through this book: Never Give Up.
Read May 1, 2009