Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies

By Laura Esquivel

OCTOBER 1, 1995 • 256 PAGES

3.5 stars

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Like Water for Chocolate is a charming tale of love, food, familial duty, and empowerment.

Let me begin by saying I LOVE magical realism, with García Márquez and Allende being two of my favorite authors of all time. So I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style, the folkloric elements, the humor, and the melodrama conveyed with understated tones.

Esquivel begins each chapter with a recipe that ties into the narrative. As the title suggest, each chapter chronicles the important event(s) of that month (kind of like a subscription magazine), where our protagonist, Tita, contends with obstacle after obstacle keeping her away from her true love, Pedro.

This is an endearing tale that tackles a number of themes, most especially love, but to me the romance is where it falls short— ironic given that it’s marketed as a love story.

Minor Spoilers Ahead:

I found Pedro to be whiny, annoying, and childish and I stopped rooting for him after he decided to marry Tita’s sister (so within the first two chapters). & yet! Despite being a strong and smart heroine, Tita still is madly in love with this loser!! Their love is just too unrealistic and immature. (My poor John! You were done so dirty. 😭)

But my complaints about characters end there. I enjoyed getting to know the varying personalities in the story, even Tita’s (let’s be real, abusive) mother, Mama Elena. My favorites are Tita, John and Gertrudis, Tita’s older sister who runs off with a captain in the army, joins a brothel, and then becomes a general— all in the breadth of a couple sentences. But that’s magical realism & I love that that narrative structure forces you to really pay attention.

End of Spoilers.

Overall, I appreciate this book for its writing style, page-turning plot, and its women, but I *cannot* get over my hate for Pedro. It lights a match inside me (IYKYK). He really dampens my mood. Don’t read this if you’re looking for a good romance. But read it if you’re looking for a great story about family, tradition, food, and humor.

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