Laura Esquivel's Swift As Desire is a novel-cum-tribute to her father Jubilo, "born happy and on holiday" in early 20th-century Mexico. Now on his deathbed and unable to speak, his daughter Lluvia, the story's narrator, tries to puzzle out what had driven her parents' marriage asunder, for "even though the lines were down, their love kept travelling as swift as their desire".
Jubilo seems to have had every virtue: as son, father and friend, his gifts of communication, generosity and warmth were legion. And if his characterisation as husband leans rather too heavily on adoringly possessive Latin who makes love like a divine demon--well, let's overlook the stereotyping. His passion for his wife Lucha and their two children, his dedication to his work as a telegraph operator and his general bon vivance made him a man for all worlds. And yet, and yet... a photograph found by chance leads Lluvia to the heart of the matter.
Esquivel's frequent, interspersed reflections and observations, intruding on the narrative flow, tilt towards the trite and obvious, and are often surprisingly clumsily expressed. But the award-winning author of the bestselling Like Water for Chocolate presents her characters with such affection and zest, and such bountiful sensuality, that the book's shortcomings can be overlooked. --Ruth Petrie