Amanda's Reviews > Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
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Jun 03, 13

bookshelves: nancy-pearl, blog
Read in September, 2011

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 and culture, as well as food and memory.

Tita, the youngest daughter in her family, is doomed by tradition. She grows up knowing that she will never marry as it is her fate to take care of her tyrannical mother as she enters old age. Tita might have been able to resign herself to her destiny if it weren't for Pedro, the man with whom she falls passionately in love at first sight. Tita's mother, of course, forbids the marriage and instead does the unthinkable--offers Pedro her eldest daughter Rosaura's hand in marriage. Pedro, the effin' fool that he is (oh, that's my other complaint with the book; I did not cotton to Pedro, although, to be fair, he's not a very well-developed character and so his actions come across as moronic since his only driving impulse is to be with Tita), accepts because it is the only way he can be near Tita. Oh, yeah. You know that's a plan that's going to end in a fustercluck.

Tita is both elated to know that Pedro is only marrying her sister out of love for Tita and depressed by the fact that their love is to go unconsummated as long as her mother's eagle eye ensures that the two are kept apart. Unable to express her innermost desires, they instead surface in her famed cooking. Ordinary meals become an emotional feast as those who eat her food are consumed by Tita's suppressed passion, anger, and resentment.

The episodic structure of the novel is genius, separated month by month and beginning with the recipe around which the story will revolve.

The characters are somewhat one-dimensional, but given that the novel has a fairytale quality to it and reads more as myth than reality, I'm willing to forgive that. What ruined the entire novel for me was the ending. I don't want to ruin it for other readers, so I will simply say that I don't think Tita chose the right man and leave it at that.

Cross posted at This Insignificant Cinder
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Reading Progress

09/12/2011 page 28
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by James (last edited Oct 03, 2011 10:28AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

James Thane I've not read this book, but I have vivid memories of the movie--a great food movie!


Amanda James wrote: "I've not read this book, but I have vivid memories of the movie--a great food movie!"

It's in my Netflix queue--now I'm just waiting for a Saturday without papers to grade so I can watch it! I can't imagine how it translates to film, so it will be interesting to see how they made it work.


Janelle I 1000% agree with your review! I actually kind of liked the book until the very ending where I just rolled my eyes and may have even given an out loud chuckle at the utter ridiculousness. I can't agree enough that she chose the wrong man. After reading other reviews, I'm glad I found someone who shares my opinion of the book. I chose it for my book club book and I am rather disappointed in my choice.


Amanda Janelle wrote: "I 1000% agree with your review! I actually kind of liked the book until the very ending where I just rolled my eyes and may have even given an out loud chuckle at the utter ridiculousness. I can't ..."

I was really enjoying it until the end (especially the food!) and was hopeful that Tita finally had her act together. Toward the end I was like the person in the movie theater giving advice to the character on screen, "No, no, no! Don't do that. You're better than that! Have you learned nothing?" Alas, she did not heed my warning. Glad you enjoyed the review!


Lormac I read this when it came out in 1992, and I was completely enchanted by it, but maybe that was because it was the first Latin American magical realism category book I had ever read. For me, this book opened the door to Isabel Allende and others, so I have a real fondness for it despite its failings. (It also had the advantage of being short.) ( And it was about food - another advantage.) I have never seen the movie (at least I cannot remember seeing the movie), so I am excited to hear it is on Netflix. I just watched "Margin Call" so "LWFC" woudl be a great counter-balance movie!


Amanda Lormac wrote: "I read this when it came out in 1992, and I was completely enchanted by it, but maybe that was because it was the first Latin American magical realism category book I had ever read. For me, this b..."

I did enjoy it, but, like you, I think my heart was won over by my first experience with magical realism, which was Allende's House of the Spirits. That's the standard by which I judge all magical realism and, because of the nostalgia I feel for the book, everything else falls just a little short of it. But the food here, God, the food. I was perpetually hungry while reading!


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