Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Like Water for Chocolate

Beautiful book. I'm a big fan of Latino writers anyway, since many include everyday magic in their stories, and Laura Esquivel is no exception. I understand that there is a film version of Tita and Pedro's story, I wonder how such a book can be translated into film... has anyone seen it?

A quote from the San Francisco Chronicle on the back cover of my edition calls Like Water for Chocolate "A tall-tale, fairy-tale, soap-opera romance, Mexican cookbook and home remedy handbook all rolled into one". I have to say that there is no disagreeing with this... the story of Tita and Pedro's romance is so out-of-this-world that all those terms really do apply!

I don't want to say much about the plot, it is a short book and I don't want to spoil it for you. But I will share a favorite passage:

"My grandmother had a very interesting theory; she said that each of us is born with a box of matches inside us but we can't strike them all by ourselves; just as in the experiment, we need oxygen and a candle to help. In this case, the oxygen, for example, would come from the breath of the person you love; the candle could be any kind of food, music, caress, word or sound that engenders the explosion that lights one of the matches."

Isn't that a nice way of phrasing things? This sort of mood pervades the entire story, which aside from the regular action has things like beans that won't cook because people have been arguing - you have to sing to them so that they're happy again and then they'll cook properly.

The phrase 'like water for chocolate' is used only once in the story and means 'on the verge of boiling over'... there are so many ways to interpret that!

As I said, this is a beautiful book, definitely worth reading. The food/cooking aspect reminds me of Joanne Harris and of Alice Hoffman and also of Sarah Addison Allen so if you like any of those authors, give this great Mexican writer a try!

Challenges: 1% Well-Read, 999 Challenge, Celebrate the Author

7 comments:

Charley said...

I would like to read this book. I like the passage you chose.

Nymeth said...

I love magic realism, so clearly I need to read this book :)

J.C. Montgomery said...

It was actually the movie that led me to the book.

I love both!

Of course I watch the movie now without subtitles as my Spanish is much more evolved.

Nothing can match or beat one's imagination, but I felt the movie came very, very close.

Trish said...

I've been seeing some very favorable reviews of this book lately and I'm starting to think that I need to re-read this one. I found it to be just ok, but I don't remember specifically why.

joanna said...

Charley - hope you enjoy it!

Nymeth - I think you'd like the mixture of simple language and strangeness.

J.C. - intriguing... might have to see the movie now!

Trish - I found it only ok in parts too, but overall I really liked it... Not sure I'd want to re-read it though!

Kailana said...

This book has always sounded right up my alley, but yet I haven't read it! Thanks for reminding me about it!

joanna said...

Kailana - Hope it lives up to the rep! :-)