The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake–A Four-Star Read

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lemon cakeAs a reader, I usually tend to favor the fantasy genre, steering away from most modern fiction. One novel changed my opinion of contemporary fiction, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender. Instantly drawn by the cover and the title (c’mon, lemon cake does not have emotions) I flipped the book over and found the synopsis to be equally intriguing. Overall, I was intrigued.

Basically, the story is about a young girl named Rose Edelstein who on her ninth birthday discovers that she has a magical gift–or curse–she can taste her mother’s emotions in the birthday cake. The cake is of course lemon cake with chocolate frosting. She is surprised and horrified to find that her mother’s cake taste of sadness. Soon, by eating her mother’s home cooked meals, she learns of her parents’ discontent and her mother’s affair. Rose also discovers she is not the only one who is ‘gifted’ in her family. It turns out her brother has the ability to disappear quite literally from the world and her father cannot enter a hospital.

I won’t give much away, but I have to say this is one of my favorite books. The prose is beautiful and heartbreaking. The author not only describes the tastes and textures of the food so well you can taste it, but the emotions can be sensed as well.

To ask if I liked this book is an understatement. Let’s just say I enjoyed it so much I refused to turn it back into the library even though another reader had the book on hold. Fun fact: it turned out the patron waiting to read the book was my twin sister. When she saw the book on my coffee table she was not happy.

Back to the review. I have been disappointed to learn that other readers have not been as receptive to this novel, claiming that the characters are not developed, the plot is too weird, and some of the plot points go nowhere. I disagree. The characters are what glued me to the story, the fantastical elements blended well in the modern realistic setting, and some of the events that were left vague were intentional. There was no need for the author to bluntly state what was made obvious in the prose.

If you are looking for a unique story with great sensory detail, you will love this novel. It’s not the feel-good story of the year, but it certainly leaves a memorable aftertaste.

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11 thoughts on “The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake–A Four-Star Read

  1. What an intriguing premise. And kudos to the author for coming up with such a clever title. I’m going to go check out the other reviews now and put it on hold in my library. I usually don’t read much in the fantasy genre, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. I put off reading ‘Night Circus’ for a very long time and found I ended up loving it.

  2. I was wondering what my next read might be and your post peeked my curiosity. Looks like I will be making a visit to the library; sounds like a good recommendation. Too, I extend a thanks for stopping by my blog.

  3. I had to come back and tell you how much I loved this book. Thanks so much for the recommendation. I loved it as a reader and as a writer. The author does an amazing job of show-don’t-tell, which can be such a nebulous concept to grasp. And as a reader, I got sucked into the story and never slipped out till the end. I had no trouble suspending belief, because to me, that’s the point of fiction. It took me a while to get used to the absence of quotation marks, but after that, I hardly noticed it.

    Like Night Circus, it’s not a book I would have picked up without someone’s recommendation. I’m so glad I read both. Thanks again!

    • Awesome! I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed it. It’s such a good book that I think writers can appreciate most.

      I will have to check out Night Circus. This is the second recommendation I’ve gotten for that book. Thank you!

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