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Review July 2020

 Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel.

First Published: 1989 in Spanish

Internet entries:

#165 Like Water for Chocolate

by Laura Esquivel

This book was chosen by Gwynneth on account of her love for magic, myths and legends. She first read the book in Spanish and saw it as a fantasy romp through Mexican culture.

With a selfish, bullying mother, a martyred heroine, a weak and ineffective lover / hero, the plot was set for us to learn a little of Mexican culture. A major part of the book related to food, indeed the 12 chapters were demarked with an ingredients list and recipe. Gwynneth particularly enjoyed the exploration of emotions relating to cooking and food, and felt the characters were well polarised between “goodies” and “baddies”.

Everyone wanted Tita to marry John and get rid of Pedro.

The mystical / magical nature of the book came as a shock to a number of club members but there was general agreement that the food element worked well even if the recipes were rather impractical. The fantasy aspect generated a spectrum of responses from within the group from:

“Enjoyed the ghosts” to “Never knew what was coming next” to “phantasmagorical”.

One club member had initially read the book during a phase of reading Magical Realism. Another member read the book initially at a superficial level but then found it lacking when read more deeply, with issues of lust versus love, mental health, and rape being poorly addressed.

However, overall the book had expanded our reading experience, and produced an interesting discussion.

Peter Church 10th July 2020.

AABC rating: 42 from 12 = 3.50