Sorry to have such a belated review - I read this so long ago, and started off the review as soon as I finished it, that I just never got round to finishing it!
"Like water for chocolate" was my suggestion for the August Bloggers Book Club because I had heard some good reviews for it, although I had not read it myself til last month. I think next time I suggest a book I will read it first! I think I was perhaps blinkered by the word chocolate - oh, yes, that sounds good me thinks!
I started off quite enthusiastic for the idea of the book. I liked the fact that the book was short and I knew I wouldn't have to spend weeks reading it. I also liked the romantic idea that the love between Tita and Pedro was so strong that he would do anything, including marry her sister(?) to be close to Tita. However, on closer inspection I thought ... what?? What a ridiculous thing to do!! He should have fought for her, instead of being weak and crumbling at the first hurdle. Although in all fairness, Tita's mother was a complete cow and would be tough opposition. I thought he was a bit of a fool to be honest - he must have known how hard it would be for Tita to watch him marry her sister and have a family with her. There is a quote in the book later, I can't remember which character it was about (Pedro I think, which would suit him well) "Next time you fall in love, don't be such a coward".
There is a quote from the book "Tita was not meant for the losers role. She played her role with dignity. When she was 14 "she controlled wild horses, shoved the driver aside and brought them to control singlehanded". I found it hard reconciling this version of Tita with the one that let her mother beat her constantly for the smallest of things, and let her mother turn Pedro towards her sister. Although I had great sympathy for her because as is quoted in the book "She had been killing her a little at a time since she was a child". It's easy to say she shouldn't have let Mama Elena have such a hold over her, but she was obviously worn down after years of abuse. It would have been nice to have read that she walked out with Pedro and left her mother to it.
Reading about the relationship between Tita and her mother really upset me. Being very thankful for having very good relationships with my parents, I found it hard to fathom that a person could be so cruel to Tita, right from birth. Thankfully Tita had Mama Elena who was a mother figure in her life. I was very sad to read about her death.
Food in this story takes on a magical power, which was completely unbelievable, much as I tried to go with it. It has an aphrodisiac power - everyone who eats the cake comes over with a wave of longing; the rose petal scene with Gertrudis and Juan the soldier - need I say more??? I thought it was interesting the way every situation/relationship was referenced with food though : Rosaura & Tita are so different, like Tacos & enchiladas; as red as the apples beside her; she understood how dough feels when plunged into boiling oil etc.
All in all, an easy read, and I did enjoy it. I started off thinking I would make the recipes as I went along, but when I saw what went into some of them, that notion was quickly abandoned! I'm going to draft my review for next month's book now, as it's finished. This time I'll make a note to publish it on time!!