Don Jubilo entered the world smiling rather than crying like other babies, and his life mission is to bring happiness to everyone's lives. Even as a young boy, acting as interpreter between his warring Mayan grandmother and his Spanish-speaking mother, he mistranslates words of spite into words of respect, so that their mutual hatred turns to love. When he grows up, he puts his gift for hearing what is in people's hearts and interpreting it to others, to good use in his job as the village telegraph operator. But the telegraph now lies abandoned, obsolete as a means of communication in the electronic age, and don Jubilo is on his deathbed, mute and estranged from his beloved wife, Lucha, who refuses to speak to him. What tragic event has come between such two sensuous, giving people to cause this seemingly irreparable rift? What mystery lies behind the death of their son, Ramiro, whom no one ever mentions? Can daughter Lluvia bring reconciliation to their parents by acting as an interpreter between them, just as Jubilo did for his grandmother and mother when he was a boy?
This bittersweet story of the humble telegraph operator with a talent for curing misunderstanding, for hearing sand dunes sing and insects whisper, is based on the story of Laura Esquivel's own father, just as the much-loved LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE was inspired by her mother's family. Romantic, poignant, touched with graphic earthiness and wit, Esquivel shows us how, in our computerised world of excess, keeping secrets will always lead to unhappiness, and how old-fashioned speaking to each other can redress and heal all our wrongs.