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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake [Paperback]

Aimee Bender
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
RRP: £7.99
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Book Description

1 Sep 2011

On the eve of her ninth birthday, Rose Edelstein 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. All at once 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 truth behind her family's emotions - her mother's sadness, her father's detachment and her brother's clash with the world. But as Rose grows up, she learns that there are some secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about the pain of loving those whom you know too much about, and the secrets that exist within every family. At once profound, funny, wise and sad, this is a novel to savour.

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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake + An Invisible Sign of My Own + The Girl in the Flammable Skirt
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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Windmill Books (1 Sep 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099538261
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099538264
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,548 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A book with such beautiful writing that sometimes I have to stop and taste a sentence a second time"--Jodi Picoult

"In this quirky, engaging tale of a family endowed with unlikely gifts, the ties that bind people barely conceal the chasms that divide them"--The Guardian

"Intense, strange and incredibly moving, it captures the magic and romance of the unknown"--Elle

Book Description

The unforgettable bestselling story of a girl whose magical gift becomes a devastating curse

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves way more than an average of 3 stars! 17 Jan 2012
This book is fantastic.

It's written from the point of view of Rose, a girl who can taste people's feelings through what they've cooked. While that alone is an incredibly intriguing plot, there's a lot more to it than just that. The book spans from her childhood to her young adulthood - and not in a boring way that drags on - it's really just perfect. The writing is so honest, the characters are all interesting, and the story seems strangely realistic. It's that poignant kind of story that sticks with you. There is an unexpected, bizarre twist as somebody mentioned but it's things like that that make books great. I suppose it is a bit out there, but what is a book without a bit of strangeness?

I don't even usually write reviews on here, I just really think this book is great. It's written so wonderfully and I can't believe how under-appreciated it is on here. I stayed up late (...or early) just to devour a few more chapters of this, and that's saying a lot!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake caught my attention when it was advertisted as a 'must read' in one of the magazines' and reading the one sentence summary that accompanied it, I thought it sounded like a fantastic idea, one in which could have gone anywhere.

Yes the idea is original, there is nothing similar.
The young 9 year old protaonist Rose grips the reader as she struggles alongisde the reader to comes to grip with what she is tasting. One minute she tastes a slice of cake like any child would, savouring it's sweetness but then the next moment, this sweetness is tainted. Rose can taste feelings in the cake. She knws how her mother is feeling- unstatisfied, unappreciated and unknown. But Rose comes to know her mother. In ways, that a child should now know. The hidden feelings that are usually buried deep within are risen along with the baking ingredients.
Rose tries to find understanding through her brother and his friend, but unaware to Rose, there is more that happens there then what she sees. Even the reader starts to question her brother's reactions.

This novel isn't just centred on Rose a child but moves with her into adulthood where she begins to accept her gift, even if still not completely understanding it.
Questions are risen and most are answered but unforunately when you read the end, you feel that Aimee Bender too, did not know where she was going with her plot. It feels unhinged like a half opened (or closed) door. It is neither one thing or another. You are left questioning what the end is.

A gorgeous title.
A fantastic idea.
Just perhaps not executed as well as it could have been.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Odd 20 Dec 2012
By WindsorMummy TOP 1000 REVIEWER
I had such high hopes for this book! Although the blurb sounded slightly unusual, I thought I'd enjoy it particularly as Jodi Picoult described it as "beautiful". Well, it wasn't. It was confusing throughout and completely unhinged in places. I tried very hard to enjoy it as I hate giving up on a book once I've started, but frankly I wished I hadn't bothered. I'm not sure what Aimee Bender was trying to achieve. In my opinion, she kicked the backside out of trying to be quirky and unique. I came away from the book knowing less about it than when I started. I still don't understand what all the underlying issues with the family were. I especially don't understand the brother's legs/chair legs incident. I found it slightly irritating that speech marks weren't used; I don't see the benefit in leaving the reader to occasionally reread a sentence to establish what is narrative and what is dialogue. I think the book had great potential to be really gripping and enjoyable.....had it been a completely different story! Unfortunately I won't be recommending this to anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Amazing concept, badly executed. 28 Jun 2012
I couldn't wait to get my teeth into this book (pardon the pun) as I thought the idea behind it was truly amazing! A child who could taste her mother's feelings in the food she made! Brilliant!

What transpired was a slow paced tale of family life; so the girl knew her mother was having an affair because she could taste it in her food.....that was about the most exciting thing that happened in this novel - until the last four chapters or so.

I won't spoil the ending for those who have read these reviews and still want to read the novel, (why would you?) but suffice it to say - there were sooo many possible avenues to travel down with a concept such as this - Bender doesn't take any of them. She heads off down the most unpredictable route and I was left thinking that the family sounded more like the main characters in The Incredibles part 2!

NO, I didn't like this novel, I was hugely disappointed with it and I would go as far as to say that there went 324 pages of my life I will never get back.

The only part of the novel I did like, asside from the occasional well placed simile, was the description of the family's ailing Grandma who as a reader, you never meet but who is slowly and systematically posting her life away to her child and grandchildren before her own death. I found those descriptions quite poignant.

I wouldn't read anything else by Aimee Bender, unfortunately.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A bittersweet book
I can't understand how this only has three stars; it's one of my absolute favourite books. It's a tender tale that captures the magic and pain of a child who is isolated with her... Read more
Published 23 days ago by JennyB
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
wonderful story
Published 1 month ago by twlbailey
4.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written and despite oddness of some of story it's easy to...
I found this a beautifully written book with interesting ideas. I savoured this authors writing & found some of the sentences haunting they were so vividly written. Read more
Published 3 months ago by amazonian
2.0 out of 5 stars Boring
Our book club decided to read this as it had got good write ups. I don't think any of us enjoyed it particularly. Over-rated in my opinion.
Published 5 months ago by AngieM
5.0 out of 5 stars Lemon Cake and Sadness
I loved this book, have passed it onto my daughter and she has passed it on to her friend. A novel that can't be put down.
Published 5 months ago by Petunia
1.0 out of 5 stars Sadly let down
From the blurb and title I was expecting to enjoy this book. The idea of it is brilliant - A little girl who can taste emotion in the food she eats. Read more
Published 5 months ago by bookmoth
4.0 out of 5 stars Lovely story
A well written novel. A little different with a supernatural element. I liked it very much and would recommend it highly.
Published 9 months ago by nono
4.0 out of 5 stars I prefer Carrot Cake
This is the first book I read after a lengthy period without reading, the concept of identifying emotion through food was what drew me in, and I enjoyed the story enough that when... Read more
Published 10 months ago by Arazon
1.0 out of 5 stars Really?
As another reviewer said, the best thing about this novel is the title. The hype that it received promised a clever concept and brilliant writing, yet it was sadly lacking in both:... Read more
Published 12 months ago by pomegranate
3.0 out of 5 stars Gave up at page 223!
There are some lovely sentences in this book, for example: 'The car drove off. The house settled itself around its new number of inhabitants' - 'and about friends, 'I was right on... Read more
Published 14 months ago by nocolgarredondo
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