Tuesday, February 8, 2011

(A Classic) Book review: Like Water for Chocolate

Since Michelle from Fluttering Butterflies is hosting love month on her blog, I thought I'd post a review paying homage to my favourite love story of all time. It's not a YA fiction novel, but it is a novel that introduced me to magic realism - a genre that I adore to this day.

So what makes for the perfect love story?  Here's my humble opinion and my recipe for...

... The perfect love story:

(Warning: This recipe may induce plenty of gushing. See notes below to see how severely affected this reviewer was... and still is)

1. Take one book
2. Add a few sumptuous recipes
3. Infuse with touches of magic realism
4. Add a heap full of fragrant flavours
5. Pour in a cupful of earthy, human emotion
6. Mix in a healthy dose of unresolved lust, tension and heated gazes

Pour in a bowl, mix them all together and watch as the perfect love story unfolds.  Allow it to simmer, heat and send your system into a seductive frenzy that will leave you feeling dizzy with its luscious writing and mouth-watering recipes.

Side notes: Be sure to flush out all superfluous ingredients such as jealous sisters, forbidding, spiteful mothers and outdated, traditional rules that threaten to spoil and get in the way of a happy ending.  

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel
Chained to Mexican tradition at the time, Tita, the youngest of three daughters is gifted with an exquisitely unique cooking skill.

Confined to a dreary future of serving and attending to her mother's needs till her death, she is forbidden the right to marry (according to the staunch rules amongst traditional Mexican families at the time).

Naturally tradition finds itself flailing in mid-air upon the arrival of the forbidden - which just so happens to come in the form of the very delicious Pedro.

Enchanted by the utterly beguiling Tita, it doesn't take him long to fall in love with the extraordinarily talented cook.

When he tries to win her hand in marriage, his request is vehemently refused by Mama Elena, Tita's staunch, unyielding and spiteful mother. To try and soften the blow, Mama Elena offers her older daughter Rosuara to him instead.

Out of sheer desperation Pedro agrees to marry her - only doing so to remain close to Tita.

For the next 22 years, Tita and Pedro are forced to move in the same circle, swathed in their unconsummated passion for each other – and kept apart by ensuing events which affects everyone in the family…

Review:

As I've mentioned before, this book is the book that introduced me to a genre that to this day still leaves me enchanted. I actually read this years ago, but the contents of it are still as vividly imprinted into my mind as if I just finished it yesterday.

One has to marvel at a book with the capacity to instantly transport you into its earthy, vibrant and voluptuously decadent world, even though you haven't read it in years.

The element of magic is a very strong feature in this novel and is written in monthly instalments of magical and sumptuous recipes – each of which plays a pivotal part in the events that follow within the story.

Each dish that Tita prepares speaks of the emotions that she cannot always express when around her family and is used as a means to express her love to Pedro and often has comic and heartbreaking effects on everyone else who consumes her dishes.

The writing, the characters - everything about this novel has a sensuality about it that always leans on the precipice of something greater. It's not what is said that makes the novel so fantastic, but how the author invites you to use your imagination with her sensual, decadent words.

Every word is smooth as velvet chocolate, melts on your tongue and lulls your system into a drug-induced state of hazy, hedonistic pleasure.

In short, the book is an aphrodisiac.

And if you don't quite believe me, I'd highly recommend reading that shower scene.  (*Tammy pauses to recover from a bout of swooning*)

I'd love to reveal more about the characters, but for once, I'm going to just tell you that this is a book where the characters, their emotions, interactions and connections need to be experienced firsthand - especially the electric chemistry between Tita and Pedro.

What I can say though, is that their love story is a story I would want for my own... except with the horrible mother and evil sister of course.

Part mythical and partly historical, Like water for chocolate is an enchantingly magical, sumptuous feast of a novel touched with a quality of earthiness and idiosyncratic grandeur that makes for a delicious read…

[Tammy would like to apologise for making any of her blog readers gag on this review. And for abusing the word earthy. She couldn't help it. It's the book's fault.

She also thinks that it's a good thing that she's all the way in South Africa - if she was anywhere near her blog readers, she'd probably force you to read it in some way or the other. *grins*

Finally, Tammy shall now proceed to stop referring to herself in third person mode. Gosh, how annoying am I? ]

5 comments:

Straylights said...

I'm hungry for some Mexican food now. THANKS TAMMY! gosh!

Leanna (Daisy Chain Book Reviews) said...

I've never heard of this book before now! Thanks for the review! :)

Clover said...

Oh, Tammy, I LOVE this review. I really do. I adore gushy reviews anyway, but the recipe at the start really made me happy. I love books that include food, as well. I really feel like a reread of this one is necessary.. Thank you so much for talking about your favourite love story :)

Aisle B said...

Like Water for Chocolate was such an incredible read and movie.

Love the magical realism.

Getting to discover our faves together and agree with all that you say :)

abeautifulmadness said...

I haven't read the book yet, but I watched the movie in my foreign language cinema class. Since then, I've been looking for this book, but I can't seem to find it in Spanish, and I would really prefer to read the original version.