Like Water for Chocolate
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Like Water for Chocolate

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3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  214,170 ratings  ·  4,415 reviews
Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.

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 wi...more
Paperback, 224 pages
Published September 16th 1993 by Random House Black Swan (first published 1989)
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One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcí­a MárquezThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeLike Water for Chocolate by Laura EsquivelLove in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Favorite Magical Realist Novels
4th out of 654 books — 3,245 voters
Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur GoldenGone with the Wind by Margaret MitchellThe Pillars of the Earth by Ken FollettOutlander by Diana GabaldonThe Other Boleyn Girl by Philippa Gregory
Best Historical Fiction
47th out of 4,001 books — 16,472 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Steve Sckenda
Mar 29, 2014 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Lovers of Magical Realism; Lovers of Food
Tita de la Garza lives a life of self-sacrifice in revolutionary Mexico at the beginning of the twentieth century. There is power, love, and life in food, and this novel explores the life force of food and the women who nourish us by starving themselves of their own desires in order to do so.

Food takes on mystical qualities, and Laura Esquivel structures her story into 12 monthly chapters, each centered around a recipe with exotic ingredients that is central to the plot of the chapter: Christma...more
karen


first things first: let's get rid of that ugly movie cover, and switch to the one i actually read....

okay, better.

this was my final selection for the readventurer challenge. i read them alphabetically, based on the suggester's first name, for arbitrary fairness.

it is strange that i have never read this book, as it is magical realism, doomed love story, and about food, all of which are interests of mine.

here is a quick story that has nothing to do with the book, and i am going to put it in a spoi...more
Kelly
Apr 19, 2008 Kelly rated it 2 of 5 stars
Shelves: adult
This book was disappointing. It felt overwrought and melodramatic.

Tita, the youngest daughter of overbearing Mama Elena, has to give up the hope of ever marrying. It will be her duty to take care of her mother in old age. This becomes a big problem when she meets Pedro. When Pedro learns of Tita's duty to her mother and impossibility of future marriage, he agrees to marry Tita's sister, just so he can be closer to Tita. This sets in motion this fable of unrequited love that is the thread through...more
Shriya
What an easily forgettable novel. The language was exceedingly childish, and the style of the novel massacred the subtlety with which magic realism is to be employed. This was my first taste of the famed Latin American style of writing, and I was sorely disappointed.

(Class discussions surrounding this book also bothered me - not only were we forced to read bad literature, we were forced to analyse it for meaningful content.)

The characters were not at all developed successfully; no motivations e...more
Emily  O
Have you ever finished a book and thought "Man, this is going to be hard to review?" Because that's the first thing I thought when I finished this little book by Laura Esquivel. Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments With Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies is a book that really left me conflicted. There were things about it that I absolutely loved, and things about it that made me very angry. The only way I can think to write this review is to explain what I found good and b...more
Amanda
Okay, so maybe more of a 3 1/2 star. I have a love/hate relationship with magical realism and, if anything, part of my disappoint with the novel comes from the fact that there's not as much "magic" as I had hoped for (I prefer Isabel Allende's House of the Sprits by comparison). However, I still enjoyed the novel as it was unique in its structure, and the conduit for the magical aspects of the novel--food--was beautifully rendered in the recipes and descriptions of the connection between food an...more
Amanda
Apr 22, 2009 Amanda rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: people in love, sexy folk, and romantics
Recommended to Amanda by: Zeke, regarding lovers and pie
If all the lights inside you can be lit at once, your heart will burst, and infinity becomes permanent.



Fuck. My heart is beating hard these days. Poor Tita makes it beat harder. A beautiful sad story of forbidden love and orgasmic passion, Tita and Pedro's tale is the hope that love IS enough after all. At that life is worth living...







Three stars for the book in general, plus one because I'm feeling so "in love" these days.
Jared Smith
Few times does an author create something completely unique; Laura Esquivel has accomplished just that. Her themes of passion, familial insubordination, dictatorial governance, and romance are not new to literature. But communicating those themes through family life on the ranch of northern Mexico using magical realism and monthly recipes as metaphors is truly pioneering.

Tita is a suppressed daughter of Mama Elena, head of a Mexican ranch at the time of the Mexican Revolution. Tita was denied t...more
Taylor K.
This is kind of the ultimate chick novel, in that it's about unrequited love, romance, food, and it's a very well-written piece of magical realism as opposed to the kind of mass-produced romantic tripe that's marketed towards women these days. This is a beautiful, beautiful novel - not something that someone forged in order to meet a contract obligation stating that if they write a generic chick novel that they can follow it up with whatever they want.

This is filled to the brim with magical real...more
Roniq
Apr 09, 2008 Roniq rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Food lovers, Hispanic Culture, those looking for a quick fun read
I got this for .50 cents at the Bellevue Library Bookstore. I love that place. I've been wanting to read it for a long time. The older guy who sold it to me said "This book is weird". "Great, I said". My kind of Book. A tale of Mexican life complete with food recipes,monthly installments and Home remedies. I just spent time in Texas and really enjoyed being surrounded by Hispanic and Southern culture more than I am here in Seattle. I had never heard of a Frito Pie until I was in Corpus Chrisi. H...more
Illyria
This book was recommended to me by a friend after I sent her a couple of recipes touted as the surest way to win any guy's heart. And indeed the book is full of references to Mexican cooking; every chapter is preceded by a recipe.

I think my most memorable impression of this book is the way it sticks to hard realism one moment and strays into the realm of fantasy the next. It left me lurching trying to adjust my perception, until I finally gave up attempting to fit it into either realism or fant...more
Tammy
Warning: This recipe may induce plenty of gushing. See notes below to see how severely affected this reviewer was... and still is)

1. Take one book
2. Add a few sumptuous recipes
3. Infuse with touches of magic realism
4. Add a heap full of fragrant flavours
5. Pour in a cupful of earthy, human emotion
6. Mix in a healthy dose of unresolved lust, tension and heated gazes

Pour in a bowl, mix them all together and watch as the perfect love story unfolds. Allow it to simmer, heat and send your system into...more
April
This is the story of Tita, a woman who is forbidden to marry her love, Pedro, because of a family tradition where the youngest girl can never marry and must take care of her mother instead. As a way to stay close to Tita, Pedro marries her older sister, Rosaura. Tita expresses her loss and heartbreak in her cooking and which become a part of every meal she creates.

Okay, I have to admit something here--I read this book after I watched the movie. I fell in love with the movie and wanted to read th...more
Aimee
There are two things that made me want to try this book: the story, which is centered on food, and the word “chocolate” in the title. After reading it, I learned the book had more to offer. Set in a Mexican home, Like Water for Chocolate is a story about Tita, her love for Pedro and her talent for cooking. This, for me, is a unique book as each chapter begins with a recipe that the main character cooks in the story. With dishes like Turkey Mole with Almonds and Sesame Seed or Quail in Rose Petal...more
Kathleen
Sep 22, 2008 Kathleen rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Cooks :)
I'm starting to feel a little hyperbolic - is it wrong to rate everything you put in here as 5 stars?? But - I personally, love this book. I've never seen the movie - I heard it was alright, but not great.

The book - I just love it. But maybe that is because I tend to love the whole Latin-American magical realism genre. The way the veil between living and dead is non-existent, the universally accepted emotional and supernatural cause and effect, the subconscious made into real daily life.

And the...more
Heather Andersen
Conceptually, I loved this book. Who can resist a story that is artfully blended with delicious recipes, and even includes the full recipe at each new chapter? I would like to give it the benefit of the doubt and suppose that I read a bad translation (the book is originally in Spanish) but no...I think it's a great concept destroyed by ugly writing.

It took two days to finish, and would have taken less but I only read it in short snatches of down time over a weekend. The language was simple, not...more
Kats
Having read "Like Water for Chocolate" almost 20 years ago at University (gosh, I sound old!) I thought this warranted a re-read before the book club meeting (genre month: magical realism) because all I remembered was a rather racy scene of a naked lady on horseback having it away with a member of the army. And not much else, other than that I really enjoyed the book and often thought I should watch the movie they made of it.

I have no idea what happened to me in the last 20 years - the book cle...more
Lauren
Feb 28, 2008 Lauren rated it 4 of 5 stars Recommends it for: Lovers of love, magic, and food.
Shelves: books-i-loved
Like food for your romantic soul. I wanted to cry out of sheer joy and sadness at the completion of this novel. This is anything but a circular story. Unlike One-Hundred Years of Solitude, House of Spirits, or Kiss of the Spider Woman, this ending is one for the lovers of love. The story of Tita pulls you in so many emotional directions... love, hate, lust, creation, depression, conflicted desire, abandonment, depletion, deception, passion, love. For once, there is a main, female character that...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Tita is the youngest in her family, and is therefore tasked with taking care of her mother and becoming the cook of the family. She is not allowed to marry, and Mama Elena is determined to keep her from participating in any sinful activities.

Mama Elena can't keep Tita's emotions from having an impact on everyone who eats her food, however, and each chapter comes with its own recipe, its own emotion, and its own little tale of emotion manifested in food consumed. I love this part of the story, a...more
Sera
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Book Concierge
UPDATE: Sept 2013

On her death, Tita’s recipe book falls to her grandniece, who then relates the story of her extraordinary relative. The novel takes place in the early 1900s on a ranch in northern Mexico, near the Texas border. The youngest of three sisters, Tita is destined from birth to stay at home to care for her mother, denied the option of love and marriage and her own family. But her attraction to the son of a neighbor rancher, Pedro, will not be so easily dismissed.

The poetry of Esquive...more
Ariela
I’ve read this book three times and on each occasion I’ve loved the story. Tita is the youngest daughter of Mama Elena. According to tradition Tita is forbidden from marrying her sweetheart, Pedro, because she is destined to take care of her mother until the day she dies. As a result Tita is relegated to a lonely life, with only her beloved recipes as an outlet for her emotions; and what happens in Tita’s kitchen is magical. For instance, when Mama Elena decides to marry Pedro to Tita’s older si...more
Rosamund
I'd say I enjoyed this. At first I thought the translation was dodgy - after all, how can you match up English, the thief of the language world, to Spanish, the tongue of sensuality? I actually found myself wanting to punch Mama Elena at times, which shows a creation of a good character, I suppose. There were little surreal twists every so often, which I liked. The ending was weird, but satisfying. But I have to say my eyes skimmed over the recipe parts - reading about how to castrate a turkey i...more
Jaisette
Oct 13, 2007 Jaisette rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: sexploit enthusiasts
Shelves: mexi-can-read
This is one SEXY ass book!!!

Yes...I can relate to all of it. Well except the naked horse ride escaping maternal prosecution...but I want to relate to that part!!!!

Though it's set in the Mexican Revolution the cultural traditions and standards in the novel are still strong today. The maternal pull of the family parallels a lot of the Mexican families of today. The mother is harsh, independent and quite frankly a bitch BUT she does it for her family. She is so intent on the image her family portr...more
Callie
I struggled to find something to like about this book. I remember people really liking the movie, so there must be something to like here, right? I didn't identify with the characters; I thought the magical realism made the mood of the book removed and flat rather than vibrant. I couldn't find a message, a moral, or even a theme in the story and the plot line was a lame as the character development. A book club friend recommended that I just sit back and read and not worry about finding meaning...more
Antof9
What an odd book! This wasn't at all what I expected, but I really enjoyed it :)

The recipes are a nice touch, but so "old world" and esoteric that I wouldn't attempt any of them. I'd like to, but don't see it happening! As I was reading it, I remembered thinking that it's a different world to first grow or raise the majority of your food, and second to know all the home remedies and things that are discussed in this book. As someone who really enjoys cooking, I wish I knew some of this stuff. Bu...more
Mary Anne
The tragedy of this book is that it had the potential to be wonderful and brilliant. I found myself falling in love with it at the beginning despite rumors from friends that it wasn't good. I loved the imagery, the food, the personalities. At first. It didn't take long though before it's fatal flaws reared their ugly heads.

# 1 Maybe I'm prudish but I have a hard time believing under any ccircumstances that year in and year out a person's life revolves around sex. I mean really if that's all you...more
MichelleCH
I've decided that I like magical realism when it is done well. It adds that wonderful zip to the story that allows your imagine to take each situation to the next level. Of course it creates improbable and fantastical situations but magical realism can make a good story rise to the level of wonderful.

Esquivel, who is Mexican, depicts the amazing and sometimes irrational traditions that make up our culture. I can completely relate to the idea that in this family the youngest daughter is to be th...more
Ariana Quintano
When I first started reading this book, I expected to get hooked right away. I anticipated a mix of family recipes and the drama that comes along with it. Many people I've spoken to have told me it was a great book. Well, I would have to disagree. I felt the content was engaging, but the language wasn't as exciting. It was basically the story of a mother and a daughter and their struggles as a family. The daughter falls in love with her sister's husband, which sounds pretty scandalous, but the w...more
Jenny
I'm sorry to say that I found this book just plain odd! It got off to a good start. I loved the way each chapter started with a recipe.

Tita is in love with Pedro but as she is the youngest daughter she is not alowed to marry. She must look after her mother until her dying day. Pedro marries Tita's sister, Rosaura, to stay closer to her. I was fine with all this. I was fine with the elements of fantasy, to start with, but when Gertrudis is so hot that she sets the shower on fire and runs through...more
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A teacher by trade, Laura Esquivel gained international attention with Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances and Home Remedies and The Law of Love. In both books she manages to incorporate her teaching abilities by giving her readers lessons about life. During an on-line Salon interview with Joan Smith, she said, "As a teacher I realize that what one lear...more
More about Laura Esquivel...
The Law of Love Malinche Swift as Desire Between Two Fires: Intimate Writings on Life, Love, Food, and Flavor El libro de las emociones: son de la razón sin corazón

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“[...] each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves” 105 likes
“Each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves; we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle would be any kind of food, music, caress, word, or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches. For a moment we are dazzled by an intense emotion. A pleasant warmth grows within us, fading slowly as time goes by, until a new explosion comes along to revive it. Each person has to discover what will set off those explosions in order to live, since the combustion that occurs when one of them is ignited is what nourishes the soul. That fire, in short, is its food. If one doesn't find out in time what will set off these explosions, the box of matches dampens, and not a single match will ever be lighted.” 74 likes
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