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Thalia Book Club: Aimee Bender's The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Audio Download – Original recording

3.2 out of 5 stars 139 customer reviews

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Audio Download, Original recording, 3 Mar 2011
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Product details

  • Audio Download
  • Listening Length: 1 hour and 38 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Original recording
  • Publisher: Symphony Space
  • Audible.co.uk Release Date: 3 Mar. 2011
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004QJ168G

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The concept behind Bender's novel is truly unique: a little girl who can taste the feelings of those involved in the food-making process. I was surprised, therefore, when the book seemed more focused on the disintegration of her parents' marriage and the difficulties faced by her genius brother rather than the problems surrounding the main character. Told from a small child's eyes, the feelings evoked were poignant and real, and I was drawn into the beautiful destruction.

Bender's pacing in this book is fantastic. The push and pull are tangible, and it turns reading into what it should be: an all-absorbing affair. With that being said, there were a few brief moments where she suddenly jumps into the past, and it takes a moment or two for me to realize what had just happened. All of these scenes are relevant, of course, but the shift is still abrupt, even for the start of a new chapter. The lead-up to the explanation behind Joe's disappearances was well-played, and the ultimate revelation is reasonable, but it lacks the impact that it could have had due to the suddenness of its delivery.

I find myself torn in how I feel about the writing style. On the one hand, it is simplistic, and it matched very well with the mentality of a youngster. Even so, the "he said/she said" method was overly grating in some sequences, where a greater variety of verb would have been greatly valued. The story ends when Rose is in her twenties, and while there is much to be said for consistency in an author's writing, the change dispatched my assumptions regarding her word choices. The lack of quotation marks was also disorienting, as I couldn't tell sometimes whether I was reading first person narrative or dialogue.

In short, this book was a worthwhile read with a few flaws.
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Format: Paperback
First of all, what a title! It instantly piques the interest and intrigues ... but overall the story falls a little short of it's promise. This is a thoughtful tale of Rose, who can taste people's feelings through their cooking. The writing is gentle and flowing and the premise thought provoking - but what a burden to have to bear! Poor Rose discovers things she really doesn't want to know, and how awful would it be to be unable to enjoy food simply for what it is?!

I think this book suffered a little from lack of plot development. Rose as a character does not really develop through the story until the very end, and the whole mystery of Joseph's "special skill" is perhaps just a bit too bizarre and pointless. The conclusion felt rushed and sudden, and quite unsatisfying.

All this is not say I didn't enjoy the book - I did. But I think Aimee Bender missed a trick ... with a little more tweaking of the plot, this could have been an amazing and unusual read. As it is, it is just a bit strange.
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Format: Paperback
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake caught my attention when it was advertised as a 'must read' in a magazine 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 protagonist Rose grips the reader as she struggles to come to grips with what she is tasting. One minute she tastes a slice of cake like any child would, savouring its sweetness but then the next moment, this sweetness is tainted. Rose can taste feelings in the cake. She knows how her mother is feeling; unsatisfied, 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 have 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 than 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 surface and most are answered but unfortunately 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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Format: Paperback
I was really disappointed by this book. I felt it had so much to offer but the more I got into it, the more weird it became. I'm all for suspending belief to a certain degree but this was just ridiculous. Furthermore, the author added a whole bunch of seemingly poignant moments - which as a reader you expected would all come together at the end - but they didn't. There are so many good books out there that my advice is not to waste your time on this one!
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Format: Paperback
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
Aimee Bender

The story focuses on Rose and how, starting in childhood, she develops the ability to taste feelings in the food people make (and also where produce originates). The food maker is not aware of the emotions themselves and it leaves Rose inhabiting a totally unique world ..................but it is not all about her `special skill'. It is also a story about her environment - her mother and father's relationship; her relationship with them both; her brother Joseph and his needs; her friends; school life, and later on her working life - which are all undeniably affected by her skill.

I was particularly intrigued with the idea of being able to `taste' the feelings of people. I had come across the idea that preparing food in a loving and focussed way enhanced the vibrations of that food. I had also stumbled across synesthesia, where for example, some people see music on a screen in front of their face (a neurologically based condition). So it was no problem at all to see this as an actual possibility!

As a child, Rose comes across as very intuitive (even without tasting the emotions) and mature for her years. She often appears to take on the `adult' role in the family. Communication (or lack of) plays a huge role in this family, which I think is fair to say is also true of how the majority of us interact within our own communities and so a reflection of the culture we live in.

The story is full of exquisite analogies, which brings the words to life. Throughout the book I had very vivid mental pictures and sometimes had to pause for them to take shape before I could continue reading.
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