Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

Like Water for ChocolateA charming tale uniquely told in 12 chapters that include a recipe for each month of the year.  The youngest daughter of an extremely overbearing mother must forego love and fulfill a family obligation to care for her mama for as long as she lives.

Set in early 1900’s Mexico, the DelaGarza daughters live with their widowed mother on their ranch during the Mexican Revolution.  Each of the sisters wish to escape from their mother’s stranglehold and each will do so in their own exceptional way.

The unfortunately youngest DelaGarza, Tita, is raised primarily by the family’s cook, Nacha where she spends most of her time so learns about food and life in the kitchen.  When a young man wishes to ask for her hand, she is flabbergasted to learn that her mother expects her to care for her indefinitely and then proceeds to marry off her sister Rosaura to Tita’s true love.  Tita becomes a cook who puts her all into everything she creates with quite interesting results for those who enjoy her cuisine.

The DelaGarza matriarch, Mama Elena, is the bane of the family’s existence.  Demanding, hypercritical, manipulative and often cruel, she spews orders to all those around her and never waits for nor expects any response.  A long-buried secret eventually reveals what has turned her into a bitter and spiteful woman.  A woman to avoid at all costs.

The good sister, Gertrudis, disappears from the ranch after enjoying a meal served by Tita and sets out in a trance like manner to the astonishment of her family.  She runs off naked with a stranger, is purported to be working in a brothel and then to have joined the rebels.  When Tita faces a crisis, she returns to the family ranch a general in the revolutionary army with fascinating tales of her exploits.

Rosaura DelaGarza marries Pedro Muzuiz, Tita’s love, at her mother’s urgings.  Aware of her sister’s feelings, yet compelled to honor her mother’s wishes, she proceeds to begin a life with a man whose heart will never belong to her.  Marriage, children and moving from the family home still do not change her husband’s feelings and she eventually succumbs to some unusual physical symptoms.

I would just love to speak with Ms. Esquivel about her ability to capture unique personalities and the conflicts that seem to abound in most families.  While I’d never be so bold as to suggest a celebrated author change a thing about their work, I’d have to ask why Tita chose Pedro over John (c’mon now).  Perhaps we could chat in the kitchen and share some recipes while discussing all things literary.

My rating for Like Water for Chocolate is a 9 out of 10.

Please share your own reviews or  comments by using the link below.

Next up, E. L. Doctorow’s Billy Bathgate…Billy Bathgate

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