Posts Tagged ‘magical realism’

Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquivel

August 10, 2011

Author:
Laura Esquivel, read by Kate Reading

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

Genre: Latino Fiction

Audiobook

Publication Date: 1994 (audiobook)

First copyrighted by Laura Esquivel in 1989 with original Spanish Text
English translation copyright 1992

Number of Pages: 5 sound discs (54 min. each)

Geographical Setting: Mexico

Time Period: early 20thcentury

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary: Divided into 12 chapters, one for each month of the year, this book shows a family living in the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution. Tita is the youngest of three daughters, and that position gives her a devastating fate. The family’s harsh tradition forbids Tita to marry and have children. Instead, it and requires her to take care of her mother until the day she dies. Sharing already a passionate love with her soul mate Pedro does not qualify for an exception to the rule. As Pedro asks for permission to marry Tita, the mother offers her oldest daughter Rosaura instead. Disappointed, Pedro decides to marry Rosaura just in order to be close to Tita. Living under the same roof, rebellious Tita expresses her desires to Pedro through the food she prepares for him. With lyrical prose, the narrator’s pleasant voice, magical realism, and unique structure, this story feels like a fairy tale thrown into a cookbook. Each chapter starts with a recipe, and is followed by detailed instructions for its preparation, blended with Tita’s emotions. Easy to follow, very descriptive, and bittersweet in style, this story is good for both a laugh and a cry. Although it can be listened to in only one evening, it remains in a memory long after that. Those interested in the recipes may wish to reach for the book format after listening to the audio
version.

Subject Headings: Mexico – fiction, Families – Mexico – fiction, Mexican cooking, Love stories

Appeal: original structure, romantic, bittersweet, dramatic, magical realism, richly detailed, witty style, imaginative, nostalgic, passionate, character-driven, lyrical prose, plot twist, unpredictable ending

3 terms that best describe this book: original structure, bittersweet, romantic

Similar Authors and Works:

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

House of Houses by Pat Mora (a nonfiction twin to Like Water for Chocolate:  divided into 12 chapters, one of each month of the year; explores family relations in the Mexican culture; memories aremixed with recipes and folk remedies; some sense of magical realism; lyrical writing style)

Seasons of My Heart: A Culinary Journey Through Oaxaca, Mexico by Susana Trilling (this culinary follow up to Like Water for Chocolate explores in depth one of Mexico’s culinary rich areas and provides detailed recipes; personal stories attached to the culinary experiences resemble the novel’s unique style)

The Wind that Swept Mexico: The History of the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1942 by Anita Brenner and George R. Leighton (Esquivel’s novel is set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, and this title, accessible and rich in photographs, allows the reader to familiarize quickly with that piece of history)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Crescent by Diana Abu-Jaber (although featuring Arabic instead of Latino culture, it resembles Like Water for Chocolate in lyrical style, magical mood associated with high spirited culture, the theme of love, and preparation of food as a major element of the story)

Esperanza’s Box of Saints by Maria Amparo Escandon (both novels feature Mexican culture and magical realism with the appearance of a spirit and rituals; in both stories the line between life and death is vague)

Mrs. Vargas and The Dead Naturalist by Kathleen Alcalá (both books feature Mexican culture and magical realism; a collection of short stories may resemble Esquivel’s novel’s structure where each chapter contains a different recipe through which the story within that chapter is told)

Name: Anna

The Time Traveler’s Wife

January 12, 2009

Title: The Time Traveler’s Wife

Author: Niffenegger, Audrey

Publication Date: 2003

Number of Pages: 518

Genre: Literary Fiction

Geographical Setting: Chicago and Michigan

Time Period: 1970s-2053

Series: N/A

Plot Summary: Henry De Tamble is a librarian at the Newberry Library; he also has a condition known as “Chrono Displacement Disorder.” It seems Henry cannot stay in the present; he is constantly and unexpectedly being pulled into another time—dropped completely naked in a parking garage, a field, a city street (he never knows why, when, or where). When the book opens, Henry is meeting his future wife, Clare, for the first time, well at least the first time for him age wise. Actually, an older Henry has been visiting Clare since she was 6 years old. What follows is a moving love story. It is the tale of Henry and Clare’s life together, with all of the normal ups and downs of any relationship, plus the added stress of Henrys time travel. The novel alternates between Henry and Clare’s points of view, with clear demarcations at the beginning of each chapter as to the year (which is essential because of the time travel and Henry’s tendency to be two different ages at the “same” time) and who is speaking. Niffenegger’s highly original novel is engaging, interesting, richly layered, and extremely moving; it is a testament to the power of true love.

Subject Headings: Married People; Domestic Fiction; Fantasy Fiction; Time Travel; Librarians; Women Artists; Fate and Fatalism; Love; Chicago, Illinois; Newberry Library, Chicago; Love Stories; Eccentrics and Eccentricities.

Appeal: character centered, domestic, layered, shifting points of view, bounces around in time, extremely thought provoking, leisurely paced, plot builds deliberately, lots of foreshadowing, realistic despite the fantasy elements, bittersweet, descriptions of Chicago neighborhoods and institutions, conversational, intimate, candid, closed ending.

3 Terms for Book: time-travel, original, moving love story

Similar Authors and Works (Fiction): Dickinson, Charles—A Shortcut in Time(IL setting, time travel, its effect on personal relationships); Gabaldon, Diana—The Outlander Series (Time Travel, romance); Greer, Andrew Sean—The Confessions of Max Tivoli (A love story in which the man ages backwards); Winston, Lolly—Good Grief (A young woman dealing with the death of her husband. Henry’s condition forces Clare to live without him for long periods of time without knowing if he’d ever return)

Similar Authors and Works (Nonfiction): Gott, J. Richard—Time Travel in Einstein’s Universe: The Physical Possibilities of Travel Through Time(time travel, popular science); Grossman, James—The Encyclopedia of Chicago (use it to look up all of the places mentioned throughout the novel); Larson, Erik- Devil in the White City (Chicago history, fantastic but true elements)

Name: Becky