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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

By Aimee Bender

(11)

| Paperback | 9780099538271

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Book Description

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste Continue

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the slice. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother - her cheerful, can-do mother - tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal. Rose's gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden - truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment and her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up, she realises there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern. "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake" is a luminous tale about the heartbreak of loving those whom you know too much about. It is profound and funny, wise and sad, and Aimee Bender's dazzling prose illuminates the strangeness of everyday life.

255 Reviews

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  • 1 person finds this helpful

    This book is so full of sadness that it's almost too much to take in. It is rife with sadness, sadness drips from its pages and threatens to choke the reader in a completely unexpected way. Yes, I know that Sadness is explicitly mentioned in the titl ...(continue)

    This book is so full of sadness that it's almost too much to take in. It is rife with sadness, sadness drips from its pages and threatens to choke the reader in a completely unexpected way. Yes, I know that Sadness is explicitly mentioned in the title but it also mentions lemon cakes which are not supposed to be sad at all.
    My point is that Bender put much on her plate but left almost everything incomplete, managing to communicate "only" the sadness generated by Rosie's peculiar talent which is like a giant, heavy brick oppressing everything else.
    When she's only nine Rosie develops the ability to identify in every food she eats the emotions of the person who prepared it and she discovers this in the worst way: tasting her mother's deep dissatisfaction in the birthday cake she made for her.
    Of course this is an extremely disturbing discovery for a kid and understandably she tries to run from from it by looking for foods which don't transmit such strong and negative emotions. The consequence of this is that the most intriguing aspect of the plot remains totally undeveloped.

    Her mother's unhappiness shocks Rosie so much that she rejects her gift altogether, never exploring it until the last pages of the book and by doing this she blocks her own psychological growth for years, until she reaches her early twenties.
    The problem is that the book follows the protagonist only during this time frame, when the girl as no evolution as a character at all being so oppressed by her mother's feelings that her life is practically annihilated: she basically has no friends and no interests, she passes through high school as a ghost with no plan for her future life and she diminishes herself by indulging in a casual relationship with a guy she doesn't feel anything for while nursing a crush for her brother's best friend who maybe loves her and maybe not, but in the end just marries another girl.

    What's worse, no one seems interested in shaking her from this stupor, neither her self-absorbed mother nor her distant father nor her socially impaired brother, all of whom seem to accept her dullness as a matter of fact, until she decides that it's time to grow up, just like this.
    Since Rosie hasn't any kind of evolution, there nothing to be explored in her besides this pervasive melancholy that doesn't make up for the absence of psychological depth.
    The author could examine her dysfunctional family but again this becomes a lost opportunity: her mother is an unhappy woman who doesn't know what to do with herself until she begins an extra-conjugal relationship which solves all her problems. Her father is the most irritating character of the book: he remains on the margin till the end, when we suddenly find out that he could have helped her daughter with accepting her "disability" all this time but just didn't feel like it. And that's it. No excuses, no explanations, no reactions from Rosie. Nothing.
    The most intriguing character is Joseph, Rosie's brother who since infancy shows serious anti-social behavior which no member of the family thinks important to address and leaves the reader suspecting that his problems may have the same cause of her sister's (but Rosie, the dull, self-absorbed Rosie, never thinks about this eventuality). In the end he finds a solution for all his problems which is perfectly in line with his family approach to life and that leaves the incredulous reader totally unsatisfied.

    And that's how I feel after finishing this book: totally unsatisfied. This could have been a masterpiece with so many issues to be investigated, instead Bender make it the story of a problematic family like many others which fails to leave a mark

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    ♪Valetta♪ said on Sep 18, 2014 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Un libro dalla trama complessa, che non lascia sempre spazio alla chiarezza, ma spesso accenna e non conclude. Non ho trovato particolarmente felice l'assenza di dialoghi espliciti. Detto questo è un romanzo strano, quasi al limite del paradossale, m ...(continue)

    Un libro dalla trama complessa, che non lascia sempre spazio alla chiarezza, ma spesso accenna e non conclude. Non ho trovato particolarmente felice l'assenza di dialoghi espliciti. Detto questo è un romanzo strano, quasi al limite del paradossale, ma che sa affascinare con la storia della protagonista che, da bambina, scopre di avere capacità fuori dal comune. Capacità che la strappano prepotentemente dalla sua fanciullezza e che le gettano addosso il difficile compito di comprendere la natura umana. Un libro che non parla di superpoteri, ma di sentimenti e di rapporti, che parla della vita.

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    Gabrimu said on Sep 15, 2014 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    *** This comment contains spoilers! ***

    Esattamente a metà tra "genio" e "cosa cazzo ho letto?"

    Intrigante, bella prosa, si beve tutto d'un fiato.
    Il grande problema è che poi l'ho passato al mio fidanzato, razionalista popperiano che ci ha visto tutta una grande allegoria del suicidio.
    La domanda è: sono io che perdo colpi o è lui che ha fatto ...(continue)

    Intrigante, bella prosa, si beve tutto d'un fiato.
    Il grande problema è che poi l'ho passato al mio fidanzato, razionalista popperiano che ci ha visto tutta una grande allegoria del suicidio.
    La domanda è: sono io che perdo colpi o è lui che ha fatto lo scientifico?

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    Fran said on Aug 31, 2014 | 2 feedbacks

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Bello ma la trama e' labile

    Un libro che si legge con piacere ma gli ingredienti fanno i grumi e la lievitazione e' troppo lunga.

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    wood said on Aug 15, 2014 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    superate le prime pagine...

    ...dove sembra un romanzo da femmine invasate col cibo, si svela questo gioiellino fatto di personaggi semplici e terraterra, dove un piccola capacità particolare, apparentemente inutile e dannosa per chi la detiene, è la chiave per aprire le porte d ...(continue)

    ...dove sembra un romanzo da femmine invasate col cibo, si svela questo gioiellino fatto di personaggi semplici e terraterra, dove un piccola capacità particolare, apparentemente inutile e dannosa per chi la detiene, è la chiave per aprire le porte della propria vita e della propria apparentemente banale famiglia.
    strambo con leggiadria e tatto. decisamente da leggere.

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    Eru said on Aug 11, 2014 | Add your feedback

  • 1 person finds this helpful

    Mettiamola così: quando la letteratura incontra una sorta di potere da supereroe e, al posto di innalzarlo a chissà quale avventura, lo trasla verso la vita quotidiana e lo rende intimo e raccolto.
    Davvero un gran bel romanzo!

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    Silvano.F said on Aug 8, 2014 | Add your feedback

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