Originally published in 1990, Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate) won Laura Esquivel international acclaim. The film based on the book, with a screenplay by Laura Esquivel, swept the Ariel awards of the Mexican Academy of Motion Pictures, winning eleven in all, and went on to become the largest grossing foreign film ever released in the United States. In 1994 Like Water for Chocolate won the prestigious ABBY award, which is given annually by the American Booksellers Association. The book has been translated into thirty languages and there are over three million copies in print worldwide. Ms. Esquivel lives in Mexico.
Each chapter of screenwriter Esquivel's utterly charming interpretation of life in turn-of-the-century Mexico begins with a recipe--not surprisingly, since so much of the action of this exquisite first novel (a bestseller in Mexico) centers around the kitchen, the heart and soul of a traditional Mexican family. The youngest daughter of a well-born rancher, Tita has always known her destiny: to remain single and care for her aging mother. When she falls in love, her mother quickly scotches the liaison and tyrannically dictates that Tita's sister Rosaura must marry the luckless suitor, Pedro, in her place. But Tita has one weapon left--her cooking. Esquivel mischievously appropriates the techniques of magical realism to make Tita's contact with food sensual, instinctual and often explosive. Forced to make the cake for her sister's wedding, Tita pours her emotions into the task; each guest who samples a piece bursts into tears. Esquivel does a splendid job of describing the frustration, love and hope expressed through the most domestic and feminine of arts, family cooking, suggesting by implication the limited options available to Mexican women of this period. Tita's unrequited love for Pedro survives the Mexican Revolution the births of Rosaura and Pedro's children, even a proposal of marriage from an eligible doctor. In a poignant conclusion, Tita manages to break the bonds of tradition, if not for herself, then for future generations. (Oct.)
Take one part Whitney Otto's How To Make an American Quilt (McKay, 1991), add a smidgen of magical realism a la Garcia Marquez, follow up with several quixotic characters, garnish with love, and you'll have Like Water for Chocolate , a thoroughly enjoyable and quirky first novel by Mexican screenwriter Esquivel. Main character Tita is the youngest of three daughters born to Mama Elena, virago extraordinaire and owner of the de la Garza ranch. Tita falls in love with Pedro, but Mama Elena will not allow them to marry, since family tradition dictates that the youngest daughter remain at home to care for her mother. Instead, Mama Elena orchestrates the marriage of Pedro and her eldest daughter Rosaura and forces Tita to prepare the wedding dinner. What ensues is a poignant, funny story of love, life, and food which proves that all three are entwined and interdependent. Recommended for most collections.-- Peggie Partello, Keene State Coll., N.H.
"A tall-tale, fairy-tale, soap-opera romance, Mexican cookbook and home-remedy handbook all rolled into one, Like Water For Chocolate is one tasty entree from first-time novelist Laura Esquivel."-- San Francisco Chronicle