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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel » User review

beautiful, spare, and poetic

  • May 25, 2010
Rating:
+5
This is one of those rare books that makes me realize how grateful I am that I enjoy reading and am given the gift of being able to slip into someone else's story and experience what they do through the written word.

As other reviewers have noted: this is the story of a young woman who discovers that she can taste other people's deepest emotions and secrets through the food that they prepare. It changes her perspective on the world and while there is no "revolution of action" for her (meaning she doesn't harness the power to make a global impact or anything quite as grand) her perceptions and reactions are honest and breathtaking.

I'm not a huge fan of "magic realism" books because I find they tend to tilt towards overblown fairy-tale instead of moments of enchantment which enrich the story, but "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" is a perfect balance. Even the strange story of Rose's brother adds to the story, although there was a chapter I had to read several times to wrap my brain around.

While I do recommend this book, it's NOT for people who find untraditional narrative unappealing. For instance, there is not a *single* quotation mark in the entire book. There is little deliniation between throught and spoken word/conversation. At first, I thought "I can't read this..." but within a page or two, I fell right into Rose's perspective and the book just flowed.

I really loved reading this book. While there were sad moments, I never once felt like chucking the book across the room, which I get the urge to do when other books get overwhelmingly depressing (usually for the sake of packing an emotional punch). "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" kept me enchanted and locked in its story until the last page. And then I insisted my husband read it, which I rarely do.

Great book.

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More The Particular Sadness of Lemo... reviews
review by . February 10, 2011
The characters in The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake shy away from full engagement with the world. There could be a stretch in interpretation regarding the damage secrets and familial unhappiness does to individuals and how the unhappiness can haunt generations. My problem is that I am not sure the book engaged this issue on a deep level. Alternatively, the book was not particularly compelling on an individual level either....Aimee Bender seems too unsure of her characters and the ideas inherent …
review by . January 02, 2011
In "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake," author Aimee Bender(Willful Creatures) whips up the poignant coming-of-age narrative of her lead character, Rose Edelstein that implodes what could have been an overtly sugary adult fairy tale with a bracing component of the bittersweet. Juxtaposing moments of sophistication and sensitivity with the complexities of an active mind rich with inner mystery, Bender creates a tale swirling with the foam of adolescent desire, mingling dark chocolate notes of …
About the reviewer
Chel Micheline ()
Ranked #342
I'm in my 30's. I'm married to Tom, and mama to Gracie (born 10/05 in Danang, Vietnam, adopted 07/06). We have numerous pets, including three cats, one gecko, two parrotlets, and two beta … more
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Wiki

Taking her very personal brand of pessimistic magical realism to new heights (or depths), Bender's second novel (followingAn Invisible Sign of My Own) careens splendidly through an obstacle course of pathological, fantastical neuroses. Bender's narrator is young, needy Rose Edelstein, who can literally taste the emotions of whoever prepares her food, giving her unwanted insight into other people's secret emotional lives—including her mother's, whose lemon cake betrays a deep dissatisfaction. Rose's father and brother also possess odd gifts, the implications of which Bender explores with a loving and detailed eye while following Rose from third grade through adulthood. Bender has been called a fabulist, but emerges as more a spelunker of the human soul; carefully burrowing through her characters' layered disorders and abilities, Bender plumbs an emotionally crippled family with power and authenticity. Though Rose's gift can seem superfluous at times, and Bender's gustative insights don't have the sensual potency readers might crave, this coming-of-age story makes a bittersweet dish, brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent.(June)
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Details

ISBN-10: 0385501129
ISBN-13: 978-0385501125
Author: Aimee Bender
Genre: Literature & Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday
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