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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake: A Novel Kindle Edition

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Length: 306 pages Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taking her very personal brand of pessimistic magical realism to new heights (or depths), Bender's second novel (following An Invisible Sign of My Own) careens splendidly through an obstacle course of pathological, fantastical neuroses. Bender's narrator is young, needy Rose Edelstein, who can literally taste the emotions of whoever prepares her food, giving her unwanted insight into other people's secret emotional lives—including her mother's, whose lemon cake betrays a deep dissatisfaction. Rose's father and brother also possess odd gifts, the implications of which Bender explores with a loving and detailed eye while following Rose from third grade through adulthood. Bender has been called a fabulist, but emerges as more a spelunker of the human soul; carefully burrowing through her characters' layered disorders and abilities, Bender plumbs an emotionally crippled family with power and authenticity. Though Rose's gift can seem superfluous at times, and Bender's gustative insights don't have the sensual potency readers might crave, this coming-of-age story makes a bittersweet dish, brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Surprisingly, only a couple of critics mentioned that The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a derivative of Like Water for Chocolate, though Bender reverses Laura Esquivel's premise. But even those who noted the similarity praised Bender's original take on love, sorrow, and relationships and her surreal, sumptuous writing, particularly in her descriptions of food (only one critic faulted some awkward prose). Still, the novel garnered mixed reviews. Some critics disliked Rose's brother's characterization and the novel's lack of emotional tension, despite its plot. And many felt that the second half of the novel lacked direction and failed to take the fairy-tale elements to a deeper level. Readers willing to suspend their disbelief, however, will find much to enjoy here.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3408 KB
  • Print Length: 306 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385501129
  • Publisher: Anchor; Reprint edition (May 26, 2010)
  • Publication Date: June 1, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0036S4BVM
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #85,262 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

250 of 266 people found the following review helpful By Chel Micheline TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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125 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Red Rock Bookworm TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE begins as a fairy tale like adventure about a nine year old little girl named Rose who possesses an unusual "talent". It goes on to explore the well traveled terrain of family dynamics while giving it a magical twist. We are invited to join Rose and her family; a foursome of seriously depressed people, examine their individual coping mechanisms, discover the importance of friendship and acceptance, and come away enlightening by the author's in-depth character insights. I came away from the experience bewildered.

While the author has a definite way with words and her descriptions conjure up magnificent images the ending of the story literally fell apart for me with the resolution of the story of Rose's brother Joseph. I could never really discern between the fact and fantasy part of Joseph's life. I realize that he, like the rest of the family, was suffering from depression but that was only the tip of his particular iceberg. Was he psychotic, autistic, or are we to believe that he really possessed extraordinary powers. I am so confused.

For me this book started out a five star event but dwindled to a three by the time I read the final page. Perhaps I missed a piece of the big picture that would have provided the clarification I am seeking. If so, let me know.
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41 of 47 people found the following review helpful By J. A Magill VINE VOICE on May 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
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.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful By *stellina* on November 30, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The magical concepts in this story really could have made for an excellent novel. The idea of being able to taste the feelings of the person who prepared a meal was unique. However, the authors execution of this novel was so poor that I, myself, am tempted to rewrite the story the way it should have been written.

There is actually no story here. No sensible timeline (it actually reads - I was 10, 11, 12, 13, and now 14. Where did those 5 years go? And how does Rose pick up, 5 years later, exactly where she left off 5 years before?) Rose's ability to taste feelings is developed in a nonsensical way. First, she is able to taste her mother's sadness and then her mother's new love-fueled affair, and then she can taste in what states oranges are grown and if pigs are organic. How is that related to feeling? And what happened to tasting feelings? That central part of the story disappears halfway through the book.

At the end of the book, we learn that Rose inherited this trait from her Grandfather, and that her father "thinks" he might have a special ability in a hospital setting, but he refuses to enter a hospital to find out. This storyline is never developed and goes nowhere.

Then there is Joseph. Joseph's character has no personality, and no development. The boy disappears for years and no one is at all worried or concerned. Two years into his disapperance, the author finally mentions that the mother experienced "non stop worrying" for her missing son. Years later the father asks Rose if she "thinks he will come back?" Joseph's skill - which is loosely explained, is that he can turn into furniture. How is that related to Rose and the grandfather's skills? And why does he do it? And where does he go?
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brother and father
I think a great deal about the father and brother was left deliberately vague, but here are some of the conclusions I reached:

Towards the end of the book, Rose wonders, "What if whatever Joseph had felt every day had no shape? Had no way to be avoided or modified? Was constant?" I... Read More
Aug 7, 2010 by Girl |  See all 9 posts
Prices From Penguin and Doubleday
I agree; they only understand their pocket books. If people resist their exorbitant prices and unwarranted gouging, then perhaps they will respond appropriately. One example is Atlas Shrugged $17.99 Kindle, Paperback $9.99!
Aug 2, 2010 by Robert Hoff |  See all 3 posts
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