NESFA Members' Reviews


by Laura Esquivel

Translated by Margaret Sayers Peden

Crown Publishers, ISBN 0-517-70681-4, 1995 (1996), 266pp+CD, US$25

A book review by Evelyn C. Leeper

Copyright 1997 Evelyn C. Leeper

This novel by the author of LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE is bound to be a success, no matter what I say. But for a speculative fiction audience it is worth noting that in spite of its future setting and its characters' travels to other planets, and in spite of some descriptions labeling it as science fiction, this is not science fiction--this is fantasy. The premise is that everyone goes though thousands of reincarnations, trying to match up with their "beshert." "Beshert" is Yiddish for "the person for whom you are intended and who is intended for you," a concept not easily expressed in English. There are guardian angels and mind transference and machines that read minds and a whole slew of other ideas.

There is also a CD with music tracks to be played at various points in the story. And there are illustrations in the style of graphic novels of people's dreams and memories. All this book seemed to be missing was a scratch-and-sniff card.

Maybe this is unfair. But I found the CD tracks disruptive--when I read a book I don't like having to stop, reach over, hit the start button on my CD player, listen to arias which seem to have a background of clattering cups or some such, hit the stop button at the end of the track, and go back to the book. Not to mention jumping from text to pictures and back again.

Ultimately, I found this book had too much science fiction to work as a fantasy, too much fantasy to be good science fiction, and too many gimmicks to work as a novel.

%T      the Law of Love
%T      Ley del amor
%A      Laura Esquivel (translated by Margaret Sayers Peden)
%C      New York
%D      1996
%I      Crown Publishers
%O      hardback, US$25
%G      ISBN 0-517-70681-4
%P      266pp+CD

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