First Impression Friday will be a meme where you talk about a book that you JUST STARTED! Maybe you’re only a chapter or two in, maybe a little farther. Based on this sampling of your current read, give a few impressions and predict what you’ll think by the end.
The number-one bestseller in Mexico in 1990, Like Water for Chocolate is a romantic, poignant tale, touched with bittersweet moments of magic and sensuality. Evocative of How to Make an American Quilt in structure, Tampopo in its celebration of food, and Heartburn it its irony and wit, it is a lively and funny tale of family life in turn-of-the-century Mexico.
The narrator’s great-aunt Tita is the youngest of three daughters born to Mama Elena, the tyrannical owner of the De la Garza ranch. While still in her mother’s womb, she wept so violently – as her mother chopped onions – that she caused Mama Elena to begin early labor, and Tita slipped out in the middle of the kitchen table, amid the spices and fixings for noodle soup. This early encounter with food soon became a way of life, and Tita grew up to be a master chef. Each chapter of the novel begins with one of Tita’s recipes and her careful instructions for preparation.
In well-born Mexican families, tradition dictates that the youngest daughter not marry, but remain at home to care for her mother. Even though Tita has fallen in love, Mama Elena chooses not to make an exception, and instead, arranges for Tita’s older sister to marry Tita’s young man.
In order to punish Tita for her willfulness, Mama Elena forcers her to bake the wedding cake. The bitter tears Tita weeps while stirring the batter provoke a remarkable reaction among the guests who eat the cake. It is then that it first becomes apparent that her culinary talents are unique.
Laura Esquivel’s voice is direct, simple and compelling. She has written a fresh and innovative novel, bringing her own inimitable strengths to a classic love story.
From Ford Maddox Ford’s The Good Soldier to Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate, I am making quite a shift. Both books were listed as part of the 1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die so I guess I have already established a precedent to how my October reading journey is going to be. Although I have made some progress in this extensive list, I have to admit that I am far from making through halfway of the list but I am taking my time.
1,001 Books You Must Read Before You Die aside, I am making a slow progress on Like Water for Chocolate. It was a book I was apprehensive about when I first encountered it because I thought it was a short story collection, something that I used to be very averse to. Imagine my confusion when it was otherwise, I guess I was deceived by the wordings “a story in monthly installments”. Come to think of it, some Victorian English novels were serialized before they were published as a single volume. Oh well, at least now I have a copy of the book and am currently immersing in it.
Life Water for Chocolate is the story of Tita, the youngest of three daughters of Mama Elena, a domineering matriarch who, upon her husband’s death, became the owner of a Mexican ranch, De La Garza. Tita fell in love with Pedro but because of a Mexican tradition, she cannot marry Pedro. With malicious intent and further adding insult to the injury, Mama Elena forced her eldest daughter Rosaura to marry Pedro.
The story sounds trite enough. Yes, we’ve all read these kinds of “romance” stories where the protagonists were never meant to be because of some silly joke of fate. What sets Like Water for Chocolate apart is its incorporation of food. Food makes up nearly half of the story and it plays a seminal role in the prevailing moods and atmosphere. This is one of the facets of the novel that I enjoy. I also liked how Mexican history and culture were painted on the backdrop. It has some elements of magical realism as well.
These being said, I kind of have an iota already of how the story will figure out in the end. However, I am hoping that this is not so, that my hunch is not going to be right. I am fervently hoping that Esquivel will give an explosive or an impressionable conclusion, one that is distinct from the typical romance story. I’ll see.
From the looks of it, it looks like a quick read. Yes it is but because I have been quite busy these past few days, I can barely find the time to read it. Under normal circumstances, I would have already finished the book by now. Oh well, life and responsibilities. Nonetheless, I am hoping to finish the book over the weekend. I hope everything goes well.
How about you fellow reader, what book are you going to read this weekend? I hope it is a book that you’ve been looking forward to and I hope you enjoy it. Keep safe, and happy weekend!