First published in Spanish in Mexico as Como agua para chocolate by Doubleday in 1989. English language translation by Carol and Thomas Christensen.
I registered my copy of this book at Bookcrossing
Where to buy this book:
Buy the book from Amazon.com / Amazon.co.uk
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How I got this book:
Bought from the book table at Torquay indoor market
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
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 classic love story takes place on the De la Garza ranch, as the tyrannical owner, Mama Elena, chops onions at the kitchen table in her final days of pregnancy. While still in her mother's womb, her daughter to be weeps so violently she causes an early labor, and little Tita slips out amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon becomes a way of life, and Tita grows up to be a master chef. She shares special points of her favorite preparations with listeners throughout the story. The Spanish language edition of the best-selling "Like Water For Chocolate" is a remarkable success in its own right. Now, in this mass market edition, thousands of new readers will be able to partake in the sumptuous, romantic, and hilarious tale of Tita, the terrific cook with an extra special something in her sauce.
After reading Pierced By The Sun last year I was delighted to find a copy of Like Water For Chocolate in Torquay's Indoor Market. The book stall there raises money for a homelessness charity so I am always happy to buy a book or two as well as leaving my Bookcrossing swaps for others to enjoy. Like Water For Chocolate is very different to Pierced By The Sun and includes frequent episodes of the magical realism that I love in South American fiction. In its naive fairytale style the book reminded me of Berta La Larga by Cuca Canals although this one includes incidences of rape and more extreme violence. The characters have a fairytale quality of behaving bizarrely due to unrealistic magical motivations but I felt that this worked well within the novel's world. Tita is a poignant and sympathetic creation and I liked her a lot although I wasn't convinced by her all-consuming desire for Pedro as he seemed a weak waster to me! Mama Elena is also excellent - a really vindictive and selfish woman! However my attitude towards her did soften as we learned more about her past.
Esquivel wrote Like Water For Chocolate in twelve chapters, each focused around a particular traditional recipe so this is definitely a book for foodies. If I knew what all the ingredients were I would have been tempted to make a few of the dishes myself, especially when we see the overwhelming reactions they have among family and friends when Tita cooks them!
If you like logical, realistic fiction, you will probably be more irritated by Like Water For Chocolate than entranced. If you like a sense of the whimsical though, I would certainly recommend giving this novel a try. It is a fairly quick, easy read and one with plenty of humour and romance alongside the heartbreak. A good book for a hot summer afternoon!
Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Laura Esquivel / Women's fiction / Books from Mexico