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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Paperback – April 19, 2011
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
We read this in book club. Most of us enjoyed it, though if someone asked me what it's about, all I could say is it's about a girl who tastes the emotions of the people who... Read morePublished 2 days ago by Kathie B
The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was an award winner and best seller, and it's become one of those few books that spoke to me on a personal level, but first let's talk story,... Read morePublished 15 days ago by Jonathan P. Carroll
This is a very intriguing book. It left me wondering!Published 1 month ago by Candace Lorie DeFazio
I never received this book. Instead I received some Japanese music CD named HIRO / SADNESS $15.98. I HAVE NEVER ORDERED THIS. I DO NOT EVEN KNOW WHAT IT IS ABOUT. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Judith A. O'Neill
I think that this is the type of book that one would either love or hate. I'd be surprised if anyone had a bland reaction to it. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Lauren D
The narrative, though not as engaging as other books, perfectly paints a picture of what the author wanted to portray, an idyllic childhood that belies an undercurrent of obscure... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Ahmed Gaveem Ali
i didnt care for the book i didnt get anything out of it i hated the ending i didnt even realize it was endedPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Strange but intriguing - the lines between reality and fantasy are blurred.Published 2 months ago by Shoelover
I really wanted to like this book more than I did...I had heard such great reviews about this. This book is about Rose Edelstein, who discovers just before her 9th birthday that... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Nancy A