Wednesday 6 May 2009

Like Water For Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Pages - 222

Challenges - 100+, 1% Well Read, A to Z Author and Once Upon a Time.

Published 1989 - republished by Black Swan in 1996.

I came across this book by accident in a charity shop and was immediately drawn to the cover and the title. Any mention of food and drink in a title and I zoom in. I turned over and read the blurb on the back and was quite taken with the book. I was completely unaware that it was actually on one of my challenges, so when I realised, I was eager to read it.

This book was the number one bestseller in Mexico for two years, before the rest of the world discovered it and was later made into a film. To be honest, I had never heard of it, so I am wondering if the film was a success as it seemed to go undetected under my radar. Though I have just read that it was made in 1992, and in that year I was struggling to cope with looking after twin toddlers, so a lot of things would have gone undetected.

This is the story of Tita, the youngest daughter born to Mama Elena, destined to look after her mother until her death following an old Mexican tradition, therefore never being allowed to marry and leave her mothers side. Tita could have lived with her fate, if she had not fallen in love with the handsome and passionate Pedro. Her stern mother refuses to change her mind and in desperation Pedro marries Tita's sister in order to stay close to her. They are constantly thrown together then cruelly ripped apart. Their relationship spans 22 years, where they are forced to spend time with each other, but unable to live as a couple.

This book is not just a romantic love story, there is so much more to it. There are aspects of subtle magic and spiritual beliefs which include visions of ghosts from the past desperate to get their point across. There are also parts that are humorous and other parts that are bleak and full of sadness.

Each chapter in the book starts with the ingredients of a recipe and then details on how to make the dish, before moving on to the main story. These mouth watering recipes had me reaching for my cookbooks in desperation to create my own new signature dish - the worried look on my husband's face was really uncalled for! This book reminded me a little of Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistlestop Cafe, which also had me drooling over unusual recipes.

Tita is a very strong character in this book and puts up with a lot of cruel treatment by both her mother and her sister. In parts I found myself cringing, as I hate reading about people cruelly being hurt, but Tita always has the last laugh in situations like these. There is a magical quality about Tita, a wonderful cook, who can change the mood of everyone who eats her fabulous dishes. Her anger at her sisters wedding, causes everyone to have severe food poisoning due to her tears falling in the sauce for the main dish of the banquet. It almost seemed as if Tita could cause events to happen, just by the way she prepared meals.

On the whole, I really enjoyed this book and actually read it in one sitting. Right up until the last chapter I was raving about the book and then I found the ending to be really disappointing. I felt that the ending really let down the rest of the book and almost felt rushed. Everything became so matter of a fact by the end, that I came away feeling a little cheated.

Laura Esquivel has written quite a few books in Spanish, but only a couple of them have been translated to English.

If you enjoy books that are romantic, yet are filled with more than romance, or if you are a food junkie like me,then I would definitely recommend this book, just beware of the ending.

Has anyone else read this book? I would be interested to know what you thought of the ending?

Let me know if you have reviewed it and I will add your review to this one.

Thanks for stopping by.


  1. "These mouth watering recipes had me reaching for my cookbooks in desperation to create my own new signature dish - the worried look on my husband's face was really uncalled for!"...You totally crack me up!!!

    I bought this for a future literature class we'll be using for homeschooling. I can't quite decide if it sounds like something I'll enjoy or not...but I am excited to give it try.

  2. Great review. Sounds like it's worth reading.

  3. Oh this sounds so intriguing! I'm definitely going to check this one out!

  4. It's sounds sad, and good, and wonderful :)
    great review

  5. I don't really remember the ending, I read it just before a trip to A&E, but I read it in one sitting straight through the night. I loved the recipes and always meant to try one out though. I'm not sure I even have the book anymore to flip through!

  6. I can't wait to read this one! I picked it up a while ago. My cover is completely different though-is this the hardcover cover?

  7. Great review. Sorry to hear the ending was dissapointing. I have the Spanish version of this book in my collection, maybe I'll read it some day.

  8. Thank you for the gr~8 review. Thanks!!!

  9. I've heard of this but I never did read it. I tend to pick up books with food in the title, plot, or synopsis quite frequently though!

  10. I read this one a long time ago, and remember being let down by the ending too.

  11. You're spoiling me with choices, Viv, and thanks for the great review! Now you got me curious about its ending...

  12. I totally agree with your review of this book. I also found the ending disappointing.
    I've reviewed it here:

  13. I found your blog through Carl's Once upon a Time Challenge. I love your background! It's very pretty.

    I read this about ten years ago and can't recall the ending; it's worth a re-read I think to refresh my memory.

  14. It's been a few years since I read this, so I can't remember specifics, but I believe I found the ending rather disappointing too. I ended up passing my copy along to someone else instead of keeping it.

    If you get a chance to watch it, I'd really recommend the film version. Make sure you get it with subtitles, though, as the dubbed version just doesn't have the same oomph.


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