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Monday, September 15, 2008

1001 Book Update - Like Water for Chocolate

Interestingly enough, I picked up Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel at the library book sale and did not realize that it was on the 1001 list. Good thing though, because I just finished it and really enjoyed it. It's quite a book though so I'll try and do it justice.

The story takes place in Mexico during the turn of the 20th Century. Mexico at the time is going through a revolutionary period but this book is not a historical fiction. It's about love, family, and being true to yourself. The De la Garza family is ruled with an iron thumb by Mama Elena. She gives birth to her youngest of three daughters, Tita, who is the heroine of the story. Mama Elena decrees that since Tita is the youngest daughter, she is destined to take care of Mama Elena (and only that) until her mother dies. This becomes a problem for Tita when the love of her life, Pedro, wants to marry her. Instead, Mama Elena forbids Tita to marry and gives her other daughter Rosura to Pedro. Well, you can see where this is going. Eventually Tita has to realize how she has to take control of her life. Her destiney is in her hands, not Mama Elena's.

But what's interesting about this book is how it's written. The book has 12 chapters and each chapter is a month which starts at January and ends at December. At the beginning of each chapter is a recipe, for Tita is an amazing cook, and her preparing each meal playes an important part of the story. Most of these recipes aren't really ones I wouldn't be able to fix myself (oxtail, pheasants, etc.) but make the story very sensual.

Like Water for Chocolate is a perfect example of magical realism and is more accessable, at least to me, than One Hundred Years of Solitude. While I really enjoyed this book, I think I like my magical overtones to be a little less subduded in books. The un-reality of it all is sometimes a bit too much in this book. But that's my opinion.

I do really want to see the movie now since I read that Laura Esquivel also wrote the screenplay. And I want to see how the magical realism transfers to the big screen.

Have you read the book and/or seen the movie? What do you think?

Also reviewed by:
Medieval Bookworm
Trish's Reading Nook
The Things We Read
The Biblio Brat


  1. This used to my favorite book in high school. I loved the writing and got sucked into the romance and magic of it. I remember being disappointed in the movie as it made the magic part seem kind of hoaky.

  2. My Spanish teachers in high school made us watch the movie pretty much every year (and read the book in Spanish once we were advanced enought), but that's okay, since I love this book, and the movie as well. There are a few parts in the movie where you kind of have to roll your eyes because it gets a bit silly (the end, for sure), but it's absolutely gorgeous.

  3. I saw the movie a few years ago and enjoyed it, then read the book later. Usually, if I watch a movie based on a book FIRST, I'll end up liking it. If I read the book first, though, I usually hate the movie, lol.

    I remember the book wasn't what I was expecting from the movie! I didn't love either version, but I thought they were both nice.

  4. I've seen the movie, but I haven't read the book. I really enjoyed the movie. Fyrefly and jill are right, it is a bit corny at times, but that's part of its charm. The film is quite fairy-tale-ish magical realism.

  5. I've been avoiding this book for some reason. I can't remember why, but I guess that something gave me the impression I wouldn't like it a long time ago. Your review is making me reconsider, though!

  6. Thanks for the link. I didn't love this book and it definitely isn't my favorite magical realism novel. Have you read The House of the Spirits by Allende or Midnight's Children by Rushdie? A little more in depth than this one but I think more accessible still than One Hundred Years of Solitude.

  7. Trish - Yeah, I liked this book but didn't love it either. I haven't read those books but I've read other Allende books that I really really love. I've never read a Rushdie book so I'll have to give that one a try. Thanks for the recommendation!

  8. Which Allende books do you suggest? I have Zorro and The Daughter of Fortune on my shelf but haven't gotten around to either yet. Midnight's Children is on the 1001 list, so that's incentive. :) It's not a quick read but I think worth it.

  9. Ooo...Daughter of Fortune is good but my favorite is Portrait in Sepia. For some reason I just LOVED that book. I need to re-read it again. I've been wanting to read Zorro as well. Oooo...I'll have to read Midnight's Children then :) Thanks!

  10. Oh, I'm so glad you liked it. It'll make reading it better. I didn't know it was made into a movie.


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