As the millions of fans of Like Water for Chocolate know, Laura Esquivel is a romanticist whose novels explore the power of love and the truths of the human heart. She returns to those themes in Swift as Desire, the story of a loving and passionate man who has the gift of bringing happiness to everyone except his own wife.
The hero of this novel is Júbilo Chi, a telegraph operator who is born with the ability to “hear” people’s true feelings and respond to their most intimate, unspoken desires. His life changes forever the day he falls deeply and irrevocably in love with Lucha, the beautiful daughter of a wealthy family. She believes money is necessary to insure happiness, while for Júbilo, who is poor, love and desire are more important than possessions. But their passion for each other enables them to build a happy life together -- until their idyll is shattered by a terrible event that drives them bitterly apart. Only years later, as Júbilo lies dying, is his daughter able to unravel the mystery behind her parents’ long estrangement and bring about a surprising reconciliation.
The princess of modern Latin literature (second only to Isabel Allende) has written yet another quirky and sensual story with a moralistic twist, its cute-as-can-be characters arguing and loving with equal passion. But Esquivel's fourth novel lacks that certain something that enthralled readers of Like Water for Chocolate. Her writing is choppy, clich -laden and has the feel of a translation (no translator is credited). Yet it invokes chuckles and sighs, and if a reader craves more of the sweet wackiness that made the author's first book so appealing, Swift As Desire certainly delivers. Since birth, J bilo has had a zest for life and an uncanny ability to hear the words in people's hearts before they are able to (or just didn't want to) say them. He puts his talents to good use as a telegraph operator in 1920s Mexico and falls in love with beautiful, wealthy Luz. The couple marries, has children and enjoys a heavenly existence. But something happens during their idyllic life together that drives them apart. Now, their daughter Lluvia is nursing her father as he is bedridden with Parkinson's disease. Before J bilo dies, Lluvia desperately wants to know the cause of her parents' separation. Through Morse code, she communicates with her father and uncovers the secret nothing juicy, just a sad story that could have been avoided if the lines of communication between husband and wife had been more open. Esquivel's storytelling abilities are in top form here, and, despite its unoriginality, the novel succeeds in conveying a touching message of the power of familial and romantic love.