Kelly's Reviews > Like Water for Chocolate

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
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Nov 07, 2007

it was ok
bookshelves: adult
Read in January, 2008

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 the book.

This book, put by some, into the category of magical realism, is not at all subtle or richly textured like others in the genre. Perhaps a better category would be tall-tale or fairy tale. If I had come to the book with that perspective, maybe I would have been able to hold back on all of the exaggerated eye rolling I was doing while reading. Also, I would have been more apt to forgive the book for the delivery of one-dimensional characters.

Now, I did give this book 2 stars which means it isn't completely devoid of literary value. The language, though simple and spare was evocative, the recipes and description of food interspersed between chapters was a delightful diversion.

I would only recommend this book to readers who have a high tolerance for love stories that tend to the saccharine. If you're a true Cinderella girl, you might enjoy the story without concern for its plausibility. Don't bother if you're more like me--interesting in rich characters.
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02/02/2016 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-21 of 21) (21 new)

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message 1: by Elliott (new)

Elliott Vaughn Hope you didn't watch the movie then


Kelly Nope! I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon.


message 3: by Elliott (new)

Elliott Vaughn Kelly wrote: "Nope! I don't think I'll be doing that anytime soon."



LOL


Niki Nichols Very disappointing indeed


Lola I think the point of the book was Magical Realism. So basically everything is exaggerated with fantasy and reality. Like a bad drug trip.


Kelly Ares: Like I said in the review, if I'd come to the book expecting it to be so exaggerated perhaps I would have been more forgiving of the book. I've read other books with touches of magical realism, but this was more like a tall tale to me.

I also love a book with excellent character work. So many of the characters in this book were just flat.

I can see why many might be drawn to the romance of the book... I'd say I'm too grounded in reality, but I love good genre fiction as well. Go figure!


Lola Kelly wrote: "Ares: Like I said in the review, if I'd come to the book expecting it to be so exaggerated perhaps I would have been more forgiving of the book. I've read other books with touches of magical realis..."



no no no, you misunderstood the point of magical realism then. This book is the best example of magical realism


Kelly Perhaps I should have been more clear.

Yes, tall tales can be included under magical realism.

Honestly, I probably have less problem with the magical realism than the fact that all of the fantastical elements get in the way of any good character building.

Other books I've enjoyed have utilized magical realism to better effect.

The first I can think of is The Madonnas of Echo Park by Brando Skyhorse. Even though his book has a different character for each chapter he still manages to create compelling characters that intersect in interesting ways.

Also I must admit that I read Like Water for Chocolate a long time ago and I'm finding it increasingly hard to defend my original review.


Patrice One can only review a book in one's language!


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Also read up on the original author's culture. Mexicans tend to exaggerate, it's in our nature.


Daisy Luo Great review, echoes my sentiments


Lynette Aponte I agree.. It was VERY melodramatic.. One of the sisters got so hot and bothered that the shower set on fire? Pedro and Tita's final act of lovemaking made them transcend into the afterlife? Seriously? I hated this book, but I had no choice but to finish it for English class.


Patrice It really says something when you think of all of the wonderful books written in English but this is chosen for a class.


message 14: by Sonali (new)

Sonali I think the sister on fire was a symbol of sexual passion...


Sandra Castibel You have to read it in Spanish to write a good review for a Realismo Mágico genre book. Also, you need to read other books of the same genre.


Gabriel Muñiz You should have in mind that Spanish words are richer than their English counterparts and are able to carry emotions beyond definitions. For exmple "piedad" is pronounced in a way that evokes feelings of desperation while the only meanings you can give to "mercy" come either from the context or the definitions. Spanish is a richer language thus the metaphors and symbols intended by Esquivel are more profound than what you get in a translation. That is one reason why many people criticise American culture, it lacks language diversity... English all the time.


Andrea I'm a true Cinderella girl and I didn't like the book so, it isn't you.


message 18: by Mira (new) - rated it 2 stars

Mira I suspect a lot got lost in translation. Good translation is not just the words but the ideas, and in a way that perhaps a different audience can understand. I am NOT a Cinderella girl, but I have read and enjoyed Gabriel Garcia Marquez and other Magical Realism. This for me, lacked the complexity I've read of others in this genre. Also…the ending…I just don't even know what to say...


Patrice For those who loved this book I ask, what was the great idea that you got from it? What wisdom did you gain?


message 20: by Eva (new) - rated it 5 stars

Eva Kysilkova I read it in Spanish and loved it. Full of symbols, ambiguities, one memory transforming into another one. I don't agree the characters were flat but lots of their qualities were only suggested so that the reader had to make the whole picture. A lot f beautiful images, play on all your senses. I enjoyed the contradiction of Tita as the one rebelling against a family tradition while making another family tradition continue.


Melissa I tend to dislike magical realism (which is unfortunate having a Masters in Spanish, since that means I've had to read a lot of it over the years). I really enjoyed this though, so perhaps it isn't traditional magical realism.


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