Monday, 27 July 2015

Review: Chronicle of a Death Foretold

When I posted a picture of my recent book haul on Instagram (as I mentioned recently, I've finally jumped on that particular bandwagon!), a user called themreadsbooks commented to say that Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcìa Màrquez was an absolutely wonderful book and she highly recommended it. After that, curiosity got the better of me, so I bumped it up my TBR and whizzed through it in a single sitting.

Beneath the deceptively simple writing style, this book is very complex and nuanced. The plot, as far as it exists at all, is minimal, and the main events (or, I should say, event) are revealed very early on. But nonetheless the narrative continues to build, painting a more and more detailed and nuanced image of the 'reality' of what happened.

As it goes on, more and more moral ambiguities are evoked, and there is always a tension between what the characters are morally capable and morally willing to do. Those with the best intentions never seem able to prevent tragedy, and by the end it is clear whether the whole thing is a mess of coincidence or of fate.

The narrator tells the story retrospectively from a point in the future, and the memories, both personal and collective, of those who were there are woven into the story. Somehow, in many cases, the author does this in such a way that it only serves to throw more doubt on the reliability of narrative. Even something as simple as the weather is called into question, with some remembering glorious sunshine and others remembering rain.

There is no real conclusion to the story, and no real point where the themes come to a head or any further meaning is revealed. Instead, everything just hangs in the air and any solid purpose is only hinted at.

There are a great many themes,large and small: the reliability of memory, the individual versus the collective, the nature of moral responsibility in the face of what is (or is perceived to be) inevitable. And all of this against a scorching Caribbean backdrop. This book is not only wonderful and evocative, but incredibly engrossing. Not to mention it's barely over a hundred pages. Pick it up now! You won't be disappointed.

What did you think of Chronicle of a Death Foretold? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments.


  1. I read this last year and didn't know quite what to make of it. I liked it, but like you mentioned there's no real conclusion or any kind of solid story elements to it. I mean, obviously things happen it's just kind of a nontraditional book in nature.

    1. I agree, it is a strange book. I think it's definitely one to read after having read some other works by him. I think I appreciated it more as I knew what to expect from his writing. Thanks for your comment :)

  2. I will definitely be investigating this one!


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