Swift As Desire
by Laura Esquivel, contemporary (2001)
Crown, $22.00, ISBN 0-609-60870-3

Actually, Swift As Desire isn't exactly a contemporary novel. It spans from the early 1920s to the present day, revolving around the life of a Mexican telegraph operator named Júbilo. Júbilo is special since the day he was born. And he grows up with an upbeat outlook on life that even the feud between his mother and his grandmother couldn't dim.

In fact, our young man actually helps mend the feud, but that's a long story. Anyway, our young man grows up, marries a beautiful young woman named Luz, and smelly stuff happens.

What happened? This is what the daughter Lluvia wants to find out - why Mommy and Daddy separated like that when they seemed so in love? As she communicates with bedridden, Parkinson's-Disease-struck Daddy using Morse code, she calls up Laura Esquivel and asks her to write this story. Okay, I'm kidding about the last part. This story is fictitious. (Er, right?)

Swift As Desire is trademark Esquivel - lots of whimsical romantic Latina blues, sweeping family saga, and a sense of upbeat joie d'vivre that vibrates beautifully even when the story is at its darkest. But at the same time, Swift As Desire is an irritating story about Big Misunderstandings. The husband and wife just wouldn't talk. Put in the usual unemployment and kiddie blues every marriage in fiction breaks up over, and Swift As Desire turns into a melodrama of clichés.

On one hand, it is a beautiful, overly-romanticized made-for-Miramax movie script. I can see Penélope Cruz dancing around bare-footed in this movie adaptation. Still, with its predictable plot, choppy writing, and overdose of sap and muzak, this story never rises above being pure fluff. Well-packaged fluff, but still fluff nonetheless.

Rating: 76

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