Thursday, December 24, 2009

Review: Swift As Desire by Laura Esquivel

A tribute to her telegraph operator father, Esquivel's novel about Jubilo, gifted with the ability to hear more than just the words that people say, and his wife and daughter, this doesn't compare to her famous Like Water for Chocolate. Jubilo lies blind, incapacitated by severe Parkinson's Disease and dying. His daughter Lluvia, in whose home he is, brings his friends in to try and entertain her father and in so doing, uncovers the reason why her two very passionate parents haven't been speaking to each other since before her birth. Jubilo and Lucha led a turbulent life with each other, complicated by the fact that Jubilo's second sense about people failed him at crucial times with his wife. The story of Jubilo's life, especially after meeting Lucha, is alternated with his present and his daughter's careful caretaking. Uncovering the mystery that drove her parents apart and helping them to repair their hearts before Jubilo dies is part of what drives Lluvia as she bustles around her father's bedside.

Unfortunately the writing here is choppy and lackluster and it takes a real effort for the reader to continue along with the storyline. The mystery itself isn't alluded to until quite a ways into the story and still isn't compelling enough to make the pages turn quickly. Lucha as a character is a rotten, whiny, spoiled brat and there's little to no explanation as to why she would be so appealing to Jubilo and to other men around her. Jubilo as a character is gifted with his almost magical powers (more a heightened sensitivity) and yet Esquivel doesn't choose to show him using this intuition much at all and refers to it most only when it fails him, which makes his character feel more allegorical than real. There are plot lines that seem as if they should be major themes but they peter out for lack of life. All in all, this was a disappointment.


  1. I loved Like Water for Chocolate, and this one has an intriguing premise. It's too bad it was a disappointment. Thanks for your honest review.

    Happy Holidays, Kristen!

  2. That's so sad. LIke Water for Chocolate made my top 20 of the year, and my husband and I bought this one and another of hers after reading it. Ah well. :/


I have had to disable the anonymous comment option to cut down on the spam and I apologize to those of you for whom this makes commenting a chore. I hope you'll still opt to leave me your thoughts. I love to hear what you think, especially so I know I'm not just whistling into the wind here at my computer.

Popular Posts