Sunday, May 15, 2011

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Genre: tall tale, fantasy, magical realism
FTC Disclosure: bought from a second-hand store
Published: 1989
Pages: 256
Content: language, sex summary: Each chapter of screenwriter Esquivel's utterly charming interpretation of life in turn-of-the-century Mexico begins with a recipe--not surprisingly, since so much of the action of this exquisite first novel (a bestseller in Mexico) centers around the kitchen, the heart and soul of a traditional Mexican family. The youngest daughter of a well-born rancher, Tita has always known her destiny: to remain single and care for her aging mother. When she falls in love, her mother quickly scotches the liaison and tyrannically dictates that Tita's sister Rosaura must marry the luckless suitor, Pedro, in her place. But Tita has one weapon left--her cooking. Esquivel mischievously appropriates the techniques of magical realism to make Tita's contact with food sensual, instinctual and often explosive. Forced to make the cake for her sister's wedding, Tita pours her emotions into the task; each guest who samples a piece bursts into tears. Esquivel does a splendid job of describing the frustration, love and hope expressed through the most domestic and feminine of arts, family cooking, suggesting by implication the limited options available to Mexican women of this period. Tita's unrequited love for Pedro survives the Mexican Revolution the births of Rosaura and Pedro's children, even a proposal of marriage from an eligible doctor. In a poignant conclusion, Tita manages to break the bonds of tradition, if not for herself, then for future generations.

Wow. This is quite the different book. My first book with magical realism was Garden Spells. So I'm not sure how other books in the genre are...but this one was a far cry from realism! I would say this is more of a myth/tall-tale. While interesting, it just wasn't my book. Glad I read it but it was just a bit too bizarre for me. I went into it expecting a little more realism. Though, the movie now interests me. I wonder how they went about making this one...

The story does have a theme of love conquers all (even an overbearing abusive dead mother)!

Rating: 2.5/5 stars


  1. I read this back when I was in DC (eons ago) and I remember loving it. I don't remember many of the details but I do remember the magical part, not so much the realism.
    If you want to try another magical realism book that I remember loving from that time try House of Spirits, Isabel Allende's first book.

  2. I've heard some great things about her books. I just added this one to my list! Thanks for the suggestion, Stacy.


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