Books

LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE by Laura Esquivel | Review

“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.

A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. 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.” {Goodreads}

I had never heard of Like Water for Chocolate until my boss recently recommended it to me after I told her the vague plan for my honors thesis. “There’s a film,” she explained to me, “but knowing you, you’re probably more interested in the book.” As per usual, she was correct.

At first I was taken aback by the outrageous drama of this novel. There are points in the plot when the events are so ridiculously unbelievable and the relationships between characters (especially romantic ones!) are so intense that I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at times. This unrealistic sense is exacerbated by the fact that there are some supernatural elements threaded throughout the story: for instance, Tita can unconsciously make people feel her emotions through what she cooks or bakes, such as when she cries into a dish and everyone who eats it feels deep sorrow. In this way, Like Water for Chocolate almost reads like a fairy tale.

However, these rather unbelievable moments are intertwined amongst a careful balance of realistic, understandable, relatable human emotions. The reader can empathize with Tita’s feeling of betrayal by Pedro, the injustice of Mama Elena’s enforced tradition, the freedom Gertrude embraces as she flees the home, the overwhelming emotions following childbirth, etc. These human emotions are what ground the novel in an innate foundation of truth, the pulse that keeps the reader glued to every page. While a reader may not be able to relate to the wild events of the plot, they can certainly see themselves in at least one of the emotions that fill Tita’s heart over the course of the book.

One of the most fun things about this novel is how it revolves around food. From the structure of the book itself with monthly recipes to the emphasis on cooking and baking in Tita’s life, Like Water for Chocolate is overflowing with references and imagery to work (and play!) in the kitchen. Not only does this emphasis give the reader a sense of the culture of the family, but it also helps conjure a distinct image of the setting in the reader’s mind. One can easily picture a bustling, crowded kitchen that exudes the most tantalizing smells right before dinner is served. These are the kinds of scenes that made me understand why this novel has the potential to be turned into an excellent film.

Overall, I enjoyed Like Water for Chocolate for the wild, unpredictable, tumultuous rollercoaster on which it brings its reader. This is a beautiful, moving, heart-wrenching novel that won’t easily be forgotten.

What are your thoughts on Like Water for Chocolate? Have you seen the film? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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9 thoughts on “LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE by Laura Esquivel | Review”

  1. Ah man, I loved this book back when I read it in college. It’s one of those books that you can’t find anything quite like it again with such beautiful descriptions. Have you seen the movie/would you recommend it? I haven’t but have been meaning to.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I saw the film first and thought it was just great: sassy, funny, sexy. If you live in the U.S. and have Netflix, you can see it there. It’s all in Spanish, so there are subtitles. I also read the book this year. Ever since I saw the movie, I was harassing people to read the book with me. I talked my book club into it. The book is a little different, but not much in style or tone. I even found a copy of another Esquivel book in a use bookstore that uses that same magical realism; I can’t wait to read it! Here is a link to my review of Like Water for Chocolate (the book): https://grabthelapels.com/2018/06/18/like-water-for-chocolate/

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you enjoyed the film, and can’t wait to read your thoughts on the book. A Spanish film is music to my ears–I’ve been meaning to practice my Spanish skills for a while. Thanks so much for the recommendation!

      Like

  3. This book is so funny! I read it when I was in the school. I think in Latinoamérica is mandatory, like 100 years of solitude, everybody has read those two or Isabel Allende. I haven’t seen the movie, but there’s a film starred by Sarah Michelle Gellar that has some similitudes to the story.

    Liked by 1 person

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