Monday, June 17, 2013

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

So, I bought this book at the library book sale because I remembered hearing good things about it. Turns out it was definitely not my kind of book.

Most of it read like a Spanish-language soap opera. I kept hoping it would get better--and then it did! Finally, I started seeing some more complex ideas (Gertrudis's marriage, Chencha's role in the family, Pedro being not-so-nice, etc.). I was beginning to look forward to the end of the book. This might sound terrible, but I was so pleased to know that there would be no completely happy ending. There couldn't possibly be one! I knew that the way the story ended would answer a lot of my questions about what the book was trying to do. What would the ending have to say about feminism? Tradition? Family relations? Race? Sex? Mexican politics and war? There were so many possibilities!

But unfortunately, the book ended pretty much like it began. Like a Spanish-language soap opera. My predictions--which I had thrown out the window in the middle of the book--came true. Drat.

I don't want to totally discount this book, because I do think it probably has some interesting implications about feminism/tradition/family/race/etc., but I felt like the author may have succumbed just a little bit (or maybe a lot) to an obligation to entertain. There was far too much about sex and far too little about, well, everything else I kept hoping to learn more about. Like the revolution, for instance, and John Brown, and Tita's relationship with her nephew and niece. But it was not to be. In order to keep the book short and appease her youthful, female audience, Esquivel had to leave out interesting details and pack it nice and full of sex and ridiculous romance.

The way the book was written was certainly interesting: sort of a hybrid of magical realism and folklore and cookbook and, um, Spanish soap opera? (Ha. ha.) I enjoyed that aspect of it, but that was pretty much the extent of it.

It would be great if somebody out there could comment on this and inform my ignorance on this book. What is good about it? (I actually looked it up on Wikipedia and Sparknotes, and neither one seemed to have much thought I hadn't already considered.) I'm thinking it might go straight back to the library to be sold at another book sale.


  1. Don't you hate being disappointed by a book? Especially one that comes well-recommended. But yeah... some books just need to go back to the library for another book sale.

    1. Yes, definitely! It's the worst. But thankfully, I can't remember who told me it was good, so I can still have respect for all my friends. Haha!