Book Review: Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

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Like many of the most interesting books I have read, I received this one as a present. I’m not sure it is something I would have ever discovered on my own despite it being a best seller all over the world and subsequently a film.

Like Water for Chocolate is a feast for the senses.  It is set in the blistering heat of Mexico, and tells the story of Tita, the youngest daughter of the all female De La Garza family. Tita falls head over heels in love with Pedro, but a Mexican tradition strongly upheld by her mother, the overbearing matriarch of the family, prevents her marrying him. As the youngest daughter it is Tita’s lot in life to care for her mother until she dies. Pedro takes the desperate step of marrying her sister so that he can be forever close to Tita. What follows is a heady mix of passion, despair and heartbreak.

Each chapter of the book begins with a traditional Mexican recipe. The recipes give added interest but are also integral to the story. The fire of the Mexican sun is evident in the food that Tita prepares. The mystical alchemy of ingredients and emotion is passionate, explosive and often surprising.

The story has a magical quality with all the ingredients of a classical fairy tale; Cinderella, ugly sister, wicked (step)mother and a wonderful supporting cast. It has the potential to induce, tears laughter and gasps of disbelief.

This endorsement by Mary Batts Estrada  in the Washington Post sums up Like Water For Chocolate perfectly.  She describes it as ‘Exuberant….not for the faint of heart or stomach, but for those who like their wines full-bodied and their meals rich and zesty’

I couldn’t agree more. I loved it.

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