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Summary and book reviews of Swift As Desire by Laura Esquivel

Swift As Desire

by Laura Esquivel

Swift As Desire
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  • First Published:
    Sep 2001, 208 pages
    Paperback:
    Aug 2002, 208 pages

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Book Summary

An enchanting, bittersweet story, touched with graphic earthiness and wit; Esquivel shows us how keeping secrets will always lead to unhappiness, and how communication is the key to love.

Instead of entering the world crying like other babies, Júbilo was born with a smile on his face. He had a gift for hearing what was in people's hearts, for listening to sand dunes sing and insects whisper. Even as a young boy, acting as an interpreter between his warring Mayan grandmother and his Spanish-speaking mother, he would translate words of spite into words of respect, so that their mutual hatred turned to love. When he grew up, he put his gift to good use in his job as a humble telegraph operator.

But now the telegraph lies abandoned, obsolete as a form of communication in the electronic age, and don Júbilo is on his deathbed, mute and estranged from his beloved wife, Lucha, who refuses to speak to him. What tragic event has come between two such sensuous, loving people to cause their seemingly irreparable rift? What mystery lies behind the death of the son no one ever mentions? Can their daughter bring reconciliation to her parents before it is too late, by acting as an interpreter between them, just as Júbilo used to do for other people?

Swift as Desire is Laura Esquivel's loving tribute to her father, who worked his own lifelong magic as a telegraph operator. In this enchanting, bittersweet story, touched with graphic earthiness and wit, she shows us how keeping secrets will always lead to unhappiness, and how communication is the key to love.

Chapter 1

He was born happy and on a holiday. Welcomed into the world by his whole family, gathered together for the special day. They say his mother laughed so hard at one of the jokes being told around the table that her waters broke. At first she thought the dampness between her legs was urine that she had not been able to contain because of her laughter but she soon realized that this was not the case, that the torrent was a signal that her twelfth child was about to be born. Still laughing, she excused herself and went to her bedroom. As she had gone through eleven previous deliveries, this one took only a few minutes, and she gave birth to a beautiful boy who, instead of coming into the world crying, entered it laughing.

After bathing, Doña Jesusa returned to the dining room. "Look what happened to me!" she announced to her relatives. Everyone turned to look at her, and, revealing the tiny bundle she held in her arms, she said, "I laughed so hard, the baby came out." ...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
FOR DISCUSSION
  1. As a child, Júbilo can hear silent words behind the words his mother and grandmother speak, and knows that these silent words represent repressed desires. He considers it his job to translate these repressed desires into a language of emotion. Are these women truly repressing their desire to get along, or is Júbilo projecting his own childish need for them to get along? Since his interpretations cause harmony, does it matter? To what extent do you consider Júbilo's interpretations meddling?

  2. How does Esquivel use the image of Júbilo and Lucha dancing to convey both the power of their love for each other and Júbilo's sensitivity to currents of energy? Is there any significance to where the ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Booklist - Kathleen Hughes

Fans of Esquivel, and there are many, will definitely enjoy this beautifully written story done in her trademark magical and bittersweet style.

Publishers Weekly

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...... 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.

Library Journal - Mary Margaret Benson

Once again, Mexican novelist Esquivel mixes together an unexpected blend of ingredients, in this case Mayan and Aztec numerology, communication technologies (from telegraphs to computers), and human passions..... full of passion, fascinating cultural history, and endearing characters and will be enjoyed by her many fans.

Reader Reviews

Josie Black

fantastic, racy. esquivel has yet again managed to use her amazing story telling skills to write yet another passion filled novel. not as original as "like water for chocolate" but still inspiring and leaves the reader hopeful....

maria

DEFINATLY A GOOD BOOK.....however, the plot skiped all over the place (i think in an attempt to try a new writing style) and it was extreemly difficult to read. on the other hand, i would have to say that there is something for everyone. i chose to ...   Read More

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