Book Review: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

deathforetoldChronicle of a Death Foretold
by Gabriel Garcia Márquez
120 pages
Published 1982

I’m honestly not sure what I just read. I’m used to fiction plots having twists, or making you wonder what’s going to happen, or having a moral lesson. This – didn’t really do any of those things. You’re told what’s going to happen in the first sentence of this novella. There’s only one question, and it’s never answered. I’m not really sure what the lesson is, if there is one. I’m just baffled at the entire thing.

Chronicle of a Death Foretold, by Nobel prize winner Gabriel Garcia Marquez, is a novella about a man’s death. A woman gets married, her bridegroom discovers she’s not a virgin, returns her to her family, and her brothers kill the man who stole her virginity. That’s really all there is to the story. The brothers are completely open about what they plan to do – the narrator thinks they didn’t really want to carry out the murder and were hoping the townspeople would prevent them from doing so. The narrator is one of the townspeople, a friend of the victim, who is investigating the entire incident some twenty years later, trying to figure out why it happened and why exactly no one was able to prevent it.

Garcia Marquez writes well; his descriptions flow beautifully, his characters are interesting. Chronicle of a Death Foretold was not very linear, starting on the morning of the man’s death and hopping between the events of that day and twenty years later. I don’t mind slightly non-linear books, but this one annoyed me a bit. (Strangely, I loved The Time-Traveler’s Wife, which is not linear in the least.)

I’ll be reading another Garcia Marquez book soon – Love in the Time of Cholera – and plan to watch the movie, too, before I review it here. So I’ll give him another shot. But Chronicle of a Death Foretold just…confuses me.

From the back of Chronicle of a Death Foretold:

A man returns to the town where a baffling murder took place 27 years earlier, determined to get to the bottom of the story. Just hours after marrying the beautiful Angela Vicario, everyone agrees, Bayardo San Román returned his bride in disgrace to her parents. Her distraught family forced her to name her first lover; and her twin brothers announced their intention to murder Santiago Nasar for dishonoring their sister. 

Yet if everyone knew the murder was going to happen, why did no one intervene to stop it? The more that is learned, the less is understood, and as the story races to its inexplicable conclusion, an entire society – not just a pair of murderers – is put on trial.

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

  1. It is really interesting when there seems to be nothing taken from a book. As someone with a literary blog, I’ve been there several times, and it really makes you analyze what is worth reading. Great review!

    • Thanks! I was honestly surprised that I got nothing from this book! He’s a Nobel-prize winning author, and I got – nothing? I tried, too. It’s not even a story of what happens when good people do nothing to stop bad things – because the townspeople tried! (And I got that lesson from Boondock Saints, anyway.) Maybe it was an example of a series of unfortunate events? If anything, it’s just a story about how everything happens. Not for a reason, it just happens. I got that lesson from Dr. Horrible. In a much more entertaining way. I don’t know, I just – didn’t get it. Like I said, though, I still have Love in the Time of Cholera to read, so I’ll give the author another shot.

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