Earthy, magical, and utterly charming, this tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico became a best-selling phenomenon with its winning blend of poignant romance and bittersweet wit.
The number one bestseller in Mexico and America for almost two years, and subsequently a bestseller around the world, "Like Water For Chocolate" is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with moments of magic, graphic earthiness, bittersweet wit - and recipes.
A sumptuous feast of a novel, it relates the bizarre history of the all-female De La Garza family. Tita, the youngest daughter of the house, has been forbidden to marry, condemned by Mexican tradition to look after her mother until she dies. But Tita falls in love with Pedro, and he is seduced by the magical food she cooks. In desperation, Pedro marries her sister Rosaura so that he can stay close to her. For the next twenty-two years, Tita and Pedro are forced to circle each other in unconsummated passion. Only a freakish chain of tragedies, bad luck and fate finally reunite them against all the odds.
Overall, I think my expectations were a bit too high for this book and it didn't quite measure up. That being said, I still really enjoyed it and some parts I downright adored! I loved the fact that Tita's emotions came through in her cooking and manifested in those who ate her food (reminds me a bit of Garden Spells). However, some of the mystical elements were a bit too out there for me. The term "magical realism" is too tame for this novel - it is better described as more of a family myth.
Tita was an emotional and endearing protagonist so you can't help but cheer for her throughout the book. She, Nacha and John are very loveable characters (although I happen to quite like the fiery Gertrudis as well); whereas, Rosaura and Mami are quite horrific villains. I'm sure that the reader is supposed to like Pedro as well, but I just didn't care for him at all. He seemed short-sighted, egocentric, and at times a bit bratty (I have no idea what Tita saw in him).
While I loved some of these characters...none of them were quite three-dimensional for me. So, if you are strictly a character-driven reader, this book is probably not for you. Recommended to fans of foodie fiction and to those who like magical elements in their reading.
3.5/5 stars....I think I have to come up with a new rating system. The 5 star system doesn't accurately reflect my feelings towards Like Water for Chocolate. Hmmm...I'll think on it. Suggestions?