25 April 2016

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Publication: 1993
# of Pages: 224
Source: Owned Copy 

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 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, so that 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.

Entwined with magical realism and beautiful language, Like Water for Chocolate chronicles the journey of Tita as she navigates through heartbreak, happiness, pain, and redemption. 

What was most interesting about this novel was the incorporation of magic realism. Tita has the ability to make people feel her emotions through food. If she's feeling sad they feel sad. If she is happy then they will also be happy. This dynamic made the plot fascinating and ultimately forced some pretty interesting emotions on various characters. Speaking of characters, Esquivel had an uncanny ability to develop some polarizing characters. Mama, who I disliked with the strongest passion, illustrated the obsession and importance of tradition. As strange as some traditions may seem they play an important part in cultural identity. The inability of the youngest girl in the family to marry serves as unique family tradition as well as a catalyst for the many issues that occur within the plot. 

What I did appreciate about the text was the character development of Tita. The reader gets the opportunity to see her as a subservient daughter to watching her grow into an independent woman who defines her own destiny. The ending shocked me as I did not expect her to choose that path. Nevertheless, she fought incredibly hard to get to a place of peace and resolution after dealing with the hardships created by her mother and her sister. 

If you are a reader that enjoys cooking or reading about food I would definitely recommend this novel as food is integral to the plot. Each chapter is started with a recipe. And each recipe is outlined and described within the chapter with beautiful and detailed descriptions each intertwining with the plot. Some of the recipes were so interesting that I found myself wanting to try them out. 

The only issue I had with the text was the length of the ending. It seemed to drag out in places and made the plot difficult to get into. In my opinion it could have been shorter with a more straight-forward conclusion. Overall, the book was enjoyable and I would recommend it to anyone who likes magic realism. It was a good addition to my Around the World reading challenge. 



  1. I had to read this for school last year and gave it about 4 stars. It was actually a reread for me, but unfortunately it was one of those rereads where you dislike the book more the second time rather than first. I loved the magic realism, too! The first time it was unexpected and threw me off a bit but it was a pretty pleasant surprise by the time I finished it.

    Jess @ Princessica of Books

    1. I completely understand what you mean! Thanks for visiting! :)