It's funny, I have heard of this book through the years but never attempted to read it. Since I do really enjoy magical realism books, I probably should have read this before now, but ah well.
I think this may be a first for me that I did not like any character in this book, but still ended up enjoying it. Everyone was messed up from Tita to her mother, Mama Elena. Each part of the book is broken up into monthly installments with a recipe being the main focus of that chapter. I have to say that towards the end though, the book felt more hurried as if the author was in a rush. The flow at times was hampered a bit in my mind since we would often pass a huge length of time between chapters and there would maybe be a sentence or two of explanation of things that happened before.
The beginning of the story shows the birth of Tita de la Garza. Tita is the main focus of the book though we also have additional characters such as her mother Mama Elena, and her two older sisters Gertrudis and Rosaura. The family lives on a ranch somewhere near the Mexican and U.S. border. I assume that because later on in he story Rosaura and her family are forced to move to San Antonio and it seemed like this was not a long trip for them.
Tita unlike her sisters loves food and helps out in the kitchen. Tita falls in love at first sight (knew it was doomed then) with Pedro and hopes that her mother will accept his proposal for her hand in marriage. But, Tita, since she is the youngest, is forbidden to marry and instead has to live in order to care for her mother, until her mother's death.
I have no idea if this is a real tradition or not. Or if it is, it makes no sense to me at all. So what happens to the youngest daughter when she gets old? Is she supposed to go live with her other family members after not being allowed to marry or have children? I had a forget this noise look on my face for most of the story.
Mother Elena then tells Pedro that he should marry her daughter Rosaura instead and he agrees. Because in his head at least he will get to be close to the woman he loves (Tita) though he is still going to be married to the sister and have children with her.
So we have poor Tita being forced to cook for her sister's wedding and being slapped and verbally abused by her mother if she dares look sad. I was hoping in the end of the book Tita smothered her mother to death with a pillow, I am not going to lie.
Eventually through Tita's cooking everyone is affected by whatever emotion she is feeling as she makes meals. We have a wedding party that devolved into everyone throwing up for hours. We have one of Tita's meals causing her sister Gertrudis (seriously this name pained me to read every time) to have skin so hot it was causing water to evaporate as soon as it hit her skin and then caused her to run off with a man.
We only really get some insight into Tita and another character named Dr. Johh Brown. He ends up falling in love with Tita and caring for her for some time when things come to a head between Tita and her terrible mother.
I was really hoping that John would win the day, but Tita seems really focused on Pedro even though there is not one thing about the guy I would say that showed that he loved her even a little bit besides him stealing glances at her and being angry if she dared showed that she may love someone else.
The writing I thought was really good, though some of the food choices at times did not sound appetizing. I wonder if any other readers tried to cook the meals that are described in this book.
As I already said the flow was not as smooth as it could have been between chapters. And the ending I thought was too rushed. I read December's chapter over and over again since it felt like we skipped some big moments.
I thought the ending was sad since I didn't really see Tita and Pedro having some big consuming love. I thought it was selfish on both their parts, and neither one of them seemed to care that they were hurting other people.