Soap opera with cd attached

E. Jane Dickson deplores a multi-media marketing event

The Law of Love by Laura Esquivel, Chatto, pounds 15.99

In the future, when the Net Book Agreement is as quaint and remote as the Corn Laws, all books will be like The Law of Love. The Latin American writer Laura Esquivel hit paydirt in 1990 with Like Water For Chocolate, (now a major feature film) and is taking no chances with this latest venture. The Law of Love is not so much a novel as a multi-media marketing event. The heart-sinking combination of science fiction and magic realism is further enlivened with great wedges of cod philosophy and emetic sex. And for that untapped sector of the reading public who find traditional novels rebarbatively bookish, there are pictures to look at and music to listen to. (A CD of the book's "soundtrack" is tucked into the dustjacket.)

The theme of the novel is the perfection or the human soul through reincarnation. Our plucky heroine Azucena is an astroanalyst, a term which is left to the luckless blurb writer to explain as "a sort of highly evolved psychotherapist who ministers to the karmically challenged using music to reacquaint her patients with their past lives." Azucena is so highly evolved that she has no need of character definition, motive or believable speech patterns.

Indeed the entire novel has the ring of a Latin American soap opera dubbed into English in a Hong Kong basement. "Come on," rails Azucena at a less evolved minion, "You must think I'm some sort of idiot, right?"

To be fair, Azucena has had a tough old time of it, pursuing her "twin soul" Rodrigo from 23rd century Mexico City to the ancient empire of Montezuma. Her picaresque passage through time and space is so dizzyingly complicated that Esquivel thoughtfully provides regular updates. "She couldn't take any more," we are told, at an especially bewildering juncture. "She had received too many blows in too short a time. She had lost her twin soul, had been on the verge of being murdered [by a power crazed politician posing as the reincarnated Mother Teresa], had been forced to undergo a soul transplant, had discovered the murder of a close friend, had witnessed her beloved body occupied by an assassin, and finally, had found Rodrigo in a place that was for all practical purposes out of reach."

What is a girl to do? Fortunately, Azucena's Guardian Angel, Anacreonte is on hand with gobbets of New Age wisdom. "Hatred" he points out, "is forever hunting down a refuge, poking its nose where it shouldn't, taking over sites reserved for others, invariably forcing out love. And Nature, which unlike the Gods, insists upon order, to the point of neurosis, you might say, feels the need to got into the act."

And so it goes on, page after page of incontinent and impenetrable claptrap. You are almost grateful for the storyboard cartoons by "Spain's premier graphic artist, 'Migualanxo Prado'" and the musical interludes (mushy recordings of Puccini and traditional dantones). You can't help feeling, however, that Chatto and Windus have spoilt the ship for a hap'orth of tar. Why not follow through with a scratch 'n sniff panel (Esquivel has a particularly joyless obsession with farts) or maybe a vacuum wrapped enchilada and ready mixed margarita? But this is a counsel of perfection. Not so long ago, writers would put themselves and their readers through the slog of conjuring sensory perception from the printed page. With this easy-to-use, book-style entertainment package, Esquivel has put an end to brain-engagement misery for ever.

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Hewer is to leave The Apprentice after 10 years

TV review Nick Hewer, the man whose eyebrows speak a thousand words, is set to leave The Apprentice

Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says

film George RR Martin owns a cinema in Santa Fe

Arts and Entertainment
Clued up: John Lynch and Gillian Anderson in ‘The Fall’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
The Baker (James Corden) struggles with Lilla Crawford’s Little Red Riding Hood

film...all the better to bamboozle us
Arts and Entertainment
English: Romantic Landscape

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump


Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
    Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

    Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

    As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
    The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

    The Interview movie review

    You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
    Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

    How podcasts became mainstream

    People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

    Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

    Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
    Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

    A memorable year for science – if not for mice

    The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
    Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

    Christmas cocktails to make you merry

    Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
    5 best activity trackers

    Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

    Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
    Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

    Paul Scholes column

    It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

    Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
    Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

    Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

    2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas