Like Water for Chocolate
Like Water for Chocolate was originally written in Spanish and was called "Como Agua para Chocolate"; this is actually a phrase used when someone is boiling over with intense emotion - a good foretelling for the contents of the novel. Obviously, it is a better read in its original language however to read it in English is second best as the story is second to none. The novel was written by Laura Esquivel who is a Mexican author, born in 1950, who has made a noted contribution to Latin-American literature.
Like Water for Chocolate is a story about love, but not a soppy Cinderella type story - this one has real drama, and through Esquivel's use of magical realism is a very interesting and enticing read; mixing reality with fantasy adds a whole new dimension to the story.
The story takes place on a ranch in Mexico and is set in the late 19th century. Interestingly, all but two of the main characters are female, the most important being Mama Elena with her three daughters, Tita, Gertrudis, and Rosaura. The story is focused on Tita, who as the youngest, is forbidden to marry as she has to follow the tradition that the youngest daughter must care for her mother until she dies. Gertrudis, being the middle child, is fairly average, and does not play much importance at least in the beginning part of the novel. Rosaura however is of importance as she intervenes with the love between Tita and a man called Pedro. Pedro is obviously forbidden to marry Tita when he asks Mama Elena the hand of her daughter, however he is offered Rosaura. This creates a lot of tension and heartbreak for all three of them in their love triangle. The rest of the novel tells the story of the forbidden love between Tita and Pedro, centering around the importance of the kitchen and food as a slightly different angle for a love story. Each chapter begins with a new recipe as the focus and the story emphasizes the power of food to bring out different emotions and convey messages.
Many stories have at least a few similarities, especially love stories, however Like Water for Chocolate is truly unique and most definitely my favourite book of all time. The pure depth of the story-line and Esquivel's sensuous and engaging descriptions are really gripping and make it an extremely interesting book that I am sure I am going to have to read again to really get the full beauty of the novel - but that will be my pleasure! I really recommend this book and I wonder why it is not as famous as it ought to be in the UK!