A review by kairosdreaming
Like Water for Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel


This was a very strange book. It had been recommended to me in a foodie forum, and while it was somwhat about food, the rest of it was a very weird tale of love.

Tita is born in the kitchen, amongst the smell of onions which causes her to cry immediately. She is the youngest of three daughters, born to a controlling mother. As the youngest, she is informed that she will never marry and must take care of her mother until she dies.

When she falls in love with Pedro her mother seeks to destroy their love and instead has Pedro marry her oldest daughter. During the reception at the wedding, everyone is sick from the food that is infused with Tita's tears. This is not the only time her food would have such a strong reaction on someone, however. She also prepares another dish, that makes her middle sister flame with so much desire she burns down the shower house and runs away naked with a army captain. This causes the mother to of course, for pride, disinherit the middle daughter.

As the years pass Pedro and his wife have two kids. Both Tita becomes attached too but is grievously torn away from them at the spite of her mother. When she goes crazy after hearing about the death of one, she is rescued by Doctor John Brown who falls in love with her. With plans to marry she returns to her mother's house to care for her after a bandit attack. Her mother dies and even though Tita thinks she might be free, the return of Pedro and her sister proves that she is not.

She is torn between marrying John or being with her true love Pedro. And what of Pedro's little daughter who she cares so much about. She cannot think of leaving her either. It will be a tough decision that ultimately comes to a shocking ending.

This book, since it is a Foodie book, contains 12 recipes. All seem to be of Spanish descent and feature a lot of nuts. If you have nut allergies, this isn't the book for you, at least to make things out of. The chapters are all labeled by the months of the year, which was strange to me because rather than covering a year, this book covers 23 years.

I wasn't very happy with the ending. With all the hardship that Tita had to face in her life, the ending just didn't seem fair to me. I also thought that the author did a horrible job on the character of Pedro. I couldn't figure out what redeeming qualities he had that would make Tita love him so. I thought he was a wretch. The rest of the characters were wonderfully done though. You could hate the mother, appreciate the middle sister and Tita's other helpers, find pity for the older sister, and smile at the goodness of Dr. John.

Esquivel's writing is very easy to read. This book is in the third person and mainly focuses on Tita. The recipes ingredient lists are easy to read but as far as the preparation goes, its interspersed with the story so one would have to use the book to write it out before hand before trying to make any of them. Some of the recipes look easy, the rest look like they could take the better part of the day to make. There's even a recipe for homemade matches!

Overall while I liked the incorporation of food into this novel, I wasn't as pleased with the novel itself. The story was depressing and some of the characters were hard to connect to. It isn't one I'd read again.

Like Water For Chocolate
Copyright 1992
246 pages