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:
A Bookish Way of Life
Trish's Reading Nook
The Things We Read
The Biblio Brat