Wednesday, May 19, 2010

66 - The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake; Aimee Bender















From the title alone, I was thinking, "what could be sad about lemon cake, it's a favorite here". What if when you ate lemon cake, or any food for that matter, you could "taste" the emotions of the person who made it?  Such is the case for little Rose Edelstein on the evening of her ninth birthday.

When Rose takes a bite of her mother's lemon cake with fudge frosting, Rose tastes sadness and despair. For Rose, this is not an isolated incident. She struggles to find foods that do not make her feel "hollow" inside. Baked foods are the worst, based on the mood of the person that baked them. Packaged foods seem to have less of an effect on her.

There is one incident where after Rose takes a bite of something prepared by her mother, she becomes hysterical from the bad taste in her mouth. She is rushed to the emergency room by her mother, and the scene she causes was, for me, laugh out loud funny. Rose's mother is not the only family member who has emotional issues. In fact, the entire family is pretty dysfunctional, and each is dealing with their own emptiness and emotional pain. Rose loves her brother Joseph, and she longs to be close to him, but he is a loner who has problems of his own. The father is detached, and in his own little world, and the mother is unhappy and has secrets of her own. There is even mention of a grandmother who never visits, lives alone, is somewhat gruff, and a grandfather who could read people by their smell.

This novel is actually kind of hard to classify, but it is very very good. The story is both funny and tragic. Rose is an excellent narrator, who seems much wiser than her years. The magical realism used by the author was very clever and, the writing style kept me engaged and anxiously turning pages to see what would happen next. If you are a fan of Sarah Addison Allen's novels, I think you will love this book as well. 
RECOMMENDED - 4/5 stars (Review Copy)

31 comments:

  1. LOL...I was thinking the same thing...what's there to bad sad about when it comes to cake, especially lemon! And then, like you, I thought of Sarah Addison Allen...I'll have to keep my eye out for this one!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting concept. Lemon cake can be sour and sour can be sad. Glad you liked the book. So far I am on a roll with bad books. I am ever hopeful, guess that is why I keep reading LOL.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I love the premise you described. I'm not sure how I feel about combining lemon cake with chocolate frosting however!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I have been toying with the idea of buying this book for a while--now I think I definitely have to. Rats and also YAY!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I do hope my library has this book.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sometimes I struggle if there is too much magical realism in a book. Sometimes I end up feeling like I am just not getting it. But this one sounds like it has just the right amount.

    ReplyDelete
  7. I love lemon cake so this title amuses me. The topic sounds great and I am glad to see you really enjoyed it. I'll have to check it out!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I've read quite a few reviews about this book and they're all good stuff. I find the title interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I've got to get my hands on a copy of this book! It sounds fabulous!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Glad to hear you enjoyed this one, Diane! Love the little crumbs in your review; think I'm going to need a bigger slice!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I kept thinking Sarah Addison Allen as I read your review and then you mentioned it and so did Softdrink. I think I will love this book!

    ReplyDelete
  12. The first time I read about this book, I immediately requested it from the local library. I hope I am one of the first to obtain a copy when it is finally released this summer.

    Great review - and you have made me want to read it all the more.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am really looking forward to reading this -- thanks for the review!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lemon cake with fudge frosting? Yeah, I'd have to agree that the person who made it was feeling a tad sad when she put that one together.

    What an interesting premise for a novel. I had no idea what this book was about. I thought it was chick lit.

    A lot of people bake when they are sad or depressed. I wonder what food would equate to happiness.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Your review has me intrigued about this one- baked goods that taste like the mood that the baker was in! Hmmm.....I'll definitely have to check this out.

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have been interested in this book since I first heard of it, but this is the first review that I have read. It sounds excellent, and I would love to get the chance to read it. It is a really unusual premise for a novel, but one that intrigues me! Great review, I am glad you liked the book!

    ReplyDelete
  17. From your review this book reminds me a bit of Like Water for Chocolate, where emotions where transferred into food that was cooking. There may be something to that . . . .

    To me, that lemon cake looks divine! :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. My thoughts on Lemon Cake are very similar to yours.... that aside - i think that this sounds like a good concept for a novel - really interesting and strangely human despite being quite surreal -

    thanks for sharing

    Hannah

    ReplyDelete
  19. I have this one on order and was wondering if I had made a wise choice. Now I can't wait for it to get here. I'm a huge Sarah Addison Allen fan, so if this book is even close to hers, I'll love it.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I think I'm going to have add this to the list ... and I personally don't like lemon cake so I can relate to the title! : )

    ReplyDelete
  21. Sounds very much like, Like Water for Chocolate! I loved that book but would like to see Aimee Bender's take on something similar. Thanks for the great review!

    ReplyDelete
  22. Based on your review, I think I will really like this one. Putting it on my TBR list!

    ReplyDelete
  23. That would be truly sad if you couldn't turn to food for comfort. Very interesting theme idea!

    ReplyDelete
  24. When you wrote that she could taste their emotions I immediately thought of Sarah Addison Allen's books. This one is a book that I must read!

    ReplyDelete
  25. A very original and unusual concept. Sounds like a good book.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I am glad you enjoyed this one, Diane! I've been waiting for your review as it's one I am considering reading. Looks like it'll be going on my wish list.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I've had this on my wish list for some time! I'm glad you liked it! I read a collection of stories of Aimee Bender that were bizarre and yet compelling!

    Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  28. I've been curious about this one. Glad to know you liked it.

    ReplyDelete
  29. I read my first Aimee Bender book last year and loved it. Now I need to read the rest of her books!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I just read this. Oh, my. It took me a few chapters but then I was hooked. Reading was better than listening, the author's voice was so monotone. The detail of the observation of life as it happens was amazing to me.

    ReplyDelete

Thanks for taking the time to visit and double thanks for any comments. If you ask a question in your comments, I will try to reply to it here, or by email if your settings allow me to do so. Thank again for visiting.