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Paperback The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Book

ISBN: 0385720963

ISBN13: 9780385720960

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good

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Book Overview

_______________________________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... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

9 ratings

What is this about?

I finished this book in one and 1/2 days because I just wanted to be done with it. I found myself skipping the over pages near the end because I just could not figure out what was happening. The book and subject matter is unusual so if you like that type of thing, you may like it. It started out pretty good, I knew it would be different but what it evolved into I cannot begin to say. I did not like any of the characters, they all seemed superficial. The issue with the brother and father was way over the top, when an explanation was finally given in the last couple of pages it was ridiculous. I was given this book, then I was going to pass it along, I don't think I will do that with this one.

Fun book!

Such a fun book!! Love magical realism.


I love weird stories and this one was just right. If you like your stories to end with everything tied up and resolved - you will not like this book. This is the type of read that makes you think about it for days after finishing it. The relationships feel real and complex and the main characters feelings are easy to understand and connect with.

Not Good

I really tried to like this book, but it was really just awful. The concept is good but then it takes a turn into ridiculous and I still talk about how bad this book was after all these years. I'm sad a dislike any book as much as I did this one.

The sadness lingers

I really enjoyed this book. I think the thing that speaks most loudly about this book's impact on me is the fact that here it is, weeks after I read the book, and when I think about it, I still feel sad. In fact, I have a little bit of an unsettled feeling in my stomach right now as I write this review. The concept is original, and the vividly described feelings of the main character really stay with the reader. It's one thing to identify with a main character's feelings of sadness. It's another thing to feel her pain as she feels the pain of the loved ones around her through the food they've prepared. I really don't know another way to describe it other than to say it's very powerful and very unsettling - but at the same time, this is not a book you struggle to get through. It's a really smooth and easy read - like a light, perfect lemon cake!

A magical, mystical journey ...

I am a slow reader by nature. I very often get caught up in beautiful phrases and exquisite sentence structure. But this book cast a spell over me! I read it in less than 24 hours because I simply, literally could not put it down. I found it lyrical, spell binding and haunting. If you love to read, you will enjoy this gift of a novel.

beautiful, spare, and poetic

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.

Allow yourself to be swept away by this excellent literary novel

I was initially intrigued by the title of this book as well as the premise, that little Rose, at nearly nine years old, finds that she can taste the quiet desperation and sadness of her mother in a bite of her homemade lemon cake. Over time, she can taste more in the food people make - for example, her friend Eliza brings sandwiches to school and all Rose can taste is happiness and love. Throughout her life, she adjusts to being able to taste the emotions of people who create the food she eats. She even goes so far as to try the restaurants in her area so that she can find the blissful happiness and enjoyment that only a joyful cooks can bring to the food. This story is really about way more than Rose's ability to taste emotions. It is also a well-told family story that revolves around her two parents, Rose, and her brother Joseph, who has a gift of his own. There are times that I laughed out loud over a line, times that I thought the prose was so beautiful that I wanted to write the way Bender does, and times that were achingly sad. If you like a nice tight happy ending, this is not the book for you. The resolution is satisfying, yet very sad. if you want to be swept away by beautifully written prose and a story that will pull you in, then this is the book for you. It has earned keeper status on my shelf.

A poignant piece of magical realism

Several reviewers have done a fine job of describing the characters and plot of Aimee Bender's lovely new novel, "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake," and I see no reason to be redundant by reviewing the same material. However, I think a word is in order about the differing reaction among reviewers to this work. Aimee Bender's magical realism, the use of the fantastical to explore the depths of the human heart, belongs to a particular tradition of writing. While to my mind Bender continues to be one of the finest practitioners of this tradition - a gift once again demonstrated by "Lemon Cake," through its tender humor and memorizing sparse prose - this is not a genre that appeals to every reader. Enjoying magical realism requires the ability to accept the unbelievable; where good science fiction should be built on a cogently described and internally consistent universe, magical realism asks that the reader simply agree to the author's premise and join them on the journey. Consider for a moment the magic of Rose Edelstein, gifted and cursed with the ability to taste the emotional state of those that prepare her food. The how and the why of this are to a large extent superfluous. In the case of some magical realism this could be metaphor, though here it as much a vehicle, allowing Bender to explore the barriers which form the contours of life: between adults and children, between siblings, and between our internal and external lives. The emotional resonance of this novel lies in the fallout from Rose's power, rather than the power itself, as she finds herself peering into the inner lives of all those around her, trying with a child's mind to understand what she's shown. Bender paints her as a sympathetic, funny girl in various stages of her youth, beginning at age nine. As with some of Bender's other works, she demonstrates a particular gift for capturing the voice of adolescents and showing us the world through their eyes. As I said, this is not a novel for everyone, but its poignancy and depth, as well as the talent of its extraordinary author, are beyond dispute.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Mentions in Our Blog

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake in I Want What They're Having: Fictitious Foods in the Real World
I Want What They're Having: Fictitious Foods in the Real World
Published by Bianca Smith • March 21, 2018
Lembas, dauntless cake, butterbeer, and more. Recipes for your favorites.
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