Friday, 4 March 2011

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water For Chocolate
by Laura Esquivel

Summary: The number one bestseller in Mexico and America for almost two years, and subsequently a bestseller around the world, "Like Water For Chocolate" is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit - and recipes.

Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.

So I was sorting out the pile of books I plan to read in March and I found this one in my to be read pile and I sat down, deciding to just read the first chapter… just one chapter, just to see what it was like. Cut to me a few hours later, hugging the book after I’ve finished the last page.

Yup. I was pretty much hooked.

This is one of the most unusual books that I’ve ever read and I really, really loved it. It was just - wow. It really wasn’t what I was expecting.

I’ve heard amazing things about the book, so it was kind of hyped up in my mind and that was the reason I put off reading it for so long even though I’ve owned the book for ages. It definitely lived up to all the good things people had said about it.

The magical realism element was the biggest unexpected part, when the summary said "moments of magic" I didn't think it meant there was literally magic in the story -- it reminded me a little of the 1999 movie, Simply Irresistible*… the way it mixed food and magic and emotions. I’m not a huge fan of cooking, but I still liked how that was woven throughout the story, with each chapter starting with a recipe and the story being written around each one -- it was really unique, not like anything I’ve ever read before.

The story was told in this weird way, it’s hard to explain but you’ll understand if you read it. It surprised me that I had such a strong reaction to the characters, considering the way the story was told, but I did. I really hated Mama Elena and kind of wanted to punch Rosaura and I really adored Nacha, John and Tita. I loved Pedro too, but I kind of wanted to hit him sometimes for making poor decisions.

The romance in the story was odd… it was kind of tortured from the very start, but still like an epic love that I was rooting for throughout the whole book. I don’t really want to say much else about that because I can’t without totally spoiling the book, but yeah, I loved the love story.

It’s weird (I seem to be saying that a lot about this book), the book wasn’t funny. All the drama and stuff the characters go through, it’s not funny. But there were still little moments where the author managed to make me laugh (at the most inappropriate things) and I was impressed that she pulled that off without ruining the tone of the book.

Anyway, that’s all I can really say without gushing, spoilers and all, so I’ll just end it there. The book was fantastic. I’m going to go order the movie version of the book now (I think it’s Spanish with English subtitles).


*Note, the thing about the book that reminded me of Simply Irresistible is only the magic/cooking thing, aside from that they’re totally different. One of the major things being that SI is modern, while LWFC isn’t. (And the trailer for SI that I linked doesn’t really show much of that magic/cooking element to the movie, but if you’ve seen it, you’ll know what I mean).


  1. Hmm, I hadn't heard of this one! It sounds really interesting, though! (I totally know what you mean about not being able to describe an awesome writing style. Gah!)

  2. This was a a pretty great book - the final descriptions at the end, where the whole thing explodes in a finale rack of magical realism? Yeah, major wow.

  3. Oh, and Magic + Cooking totally makes me think of Chocolat by Joanne Harris.

  4. This is the first time i've heard of this book but it sounds really good! :)

  5. I also loved this book. I had to read this book in my sophomore world lit class and I really enjoyed everything about it. Awesome novel.



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