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3 Hawthorne Literature- A to Z

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

by

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Cover

ISBN13: 9780385720960
ISBN10: 0385720963
Condition: Standard
All Product Details

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Review-A-Day

"Flannery O'Connor was famously supposed to have remarked that anyone who made it through childhood should have enough material to write about forever. Yet the list of contemporary American novelists who have written persuasively about children is, to my mind, surprisingly short. Alice Hoffman belongs on it and so do Alice McDermott, Joyce Carol Oates and the unfortunately overlooked Lewis Nordan. If we go back a bit, so does William Maxwell. After reading Aimee Bender's new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, I would nominate her for inclusion on the list as well.

When the novel begins, Rose Edelstein is about to turn 9. Her mother decides to bake her a lemon-chocolate cake. When Rose bites into it, she discovers the most peculiar thing: She can taste the emotions of her mother, and while the cake itself is wonderful, her mother's emotions are anything but. The 'gift' quickly becomes a burden or — here, for once, I would not quibble with a publisher's jacket copy — 'a curse.' Rose begins to learn things about her mother, her father and her brother that most of us are blissfully unaware of. The novel, which covers a number of years, is a chronicle of her attempts to come to terms with what she knows." Steve Yarbrough, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)

Synopses & Reviews

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Publisher Comments:

The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents’ attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother — her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother — tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden — her mother's life outside the home, her father's detachment, her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender's place as "a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language." (San Francisco Chronicle).

Review:

"Charming and wistful....[Bender] harness[es] her exquisite, bizarre sensitivity, in this haunting examination." The Atlantic

Review:

"Bender deconstructs one of our most pleasurable activities, eating, and gives it a whole new flavor. She smooths out the lumps and grittiness of life to reveal its zest. Highly recommended for readers with sophisticated palates." Library Journal (starred review)

Review:

"[M]y guess is that this novel will be one of the year's highlights. Intense and compelling, it explores familial love in an unusually idiosyncratic but nonetheless convincing manner, and I find that I'm still thinking about Rose days after finishing the book." Oregonian

Review:

"Haunting....Bender's prose delivers electric shocks....rendering the world in fresh, unexpected jolts. Moving, fanciful and gorgeously strange." People Magazine

Review:

"[A] wacky stew of alienation and contradiction....unraveling family secrets as strangely lucid as they are nightmarish. At its core, Aimee Bender's novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake encourages us all to make the most of our unique gifts while still finding a way to live in the so-called real world." O, The Oprah Magazine

Synopsis:

The wondrous Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale — heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad.

Synopsis:

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s  privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father’s detachment, her mother’s transgression, her brother’s increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.

Synopsis:

The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother--her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother--tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden--her mother's life outside the home, her father's detachment, her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender's place as a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language (San Francisco Chronicle).

From the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Aimee Bender is the author of the novel An Invisible Sign of My Own and the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Willful Creatures. She has received two Pushcart prizes and was nominated for the Tiptree Award in 2005.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 13 comments:

Rosalind Reading, April 20, 2013 (view all comments by Rosalind Reading)
When Rose Edelstein bites into the lemon-chocolate cake her mother baked for her ninth birthday, Rose discovers she has a remarkable gift (or perhaps curse): she can taste the feelings of those who cooked her food. And her mother's cake tastes of disappointment and dissatisfaction. Rose must learn to navigate a world in which she can consume other's secret selves, whether she wants to or not. Rose grows out of her odd and secluded childhood and wrestles with adulthood, with how to deal with her insight into the emotions of those she loves, and with the things she must discover about her family without the help of lemon cake. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake weaves a tale that is bittersweet as the cake itself, and is full of just the right balance of magic realism and truth about the reality difficulty of coping with life, love, and learning to understand others.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
emmejo, February 8, 2013 (view all comments by emmejo)
When she is 9 years old, Rose eats a piece of her mother's cake and realizes she can taste her mother's feelings when she cooked. It changes Rose's life. Everything she eats tastes like the person who made it, intensely, horrifyingly. She struggles to figure out how to survive and eat food. She tries to focus on other things she can discover from her food, like where it came from and how the ingredients were grown. It also forces her to think differently about the people she is around once she knows their true emotions.

I found this book mediocre. The idea was interesting, but the execution was wobbly. I found Rose uninteresting, uncreative and inflexible. I really couldn't care less how hard a time she whined about having. The supporting characters were a bit better, but fit too neatly and simply into their planned roles, without the diversity or complexity real people have.

The writing is solid and well-paced, making for a quick read.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
310screenwriter, January 30, 2013 (view all comments by 310screenwriter)
I adore this book and have recommended it to everyone I know. Aimee Bender writes in such a beautiful, descriptive way, without ever feeling too flowery. And though the story involves a bit of fantasy, the emotions are completely real. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll be delighted.
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View all 13 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780385720960
Author:
Bender, Aimee
Publisher:
Anchor
Subject:
Literary
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20110419
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Pages:
304
Dimensions:
28 x 13 x 4 in 11.26 lb

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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake Used Trade Paper
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$7.95 In Stock
Product details 304 pages Anchor Books - English 9780385720960 Reviews:
"Review A Day" by , "Flannery O'Connor was famously supposed to have remarked that anyone who made it through childhood should have enough material to write about forever. Yet the list of contemporary American novelists who have written persuasively about children is, to my mind, surprisingly short. Alice Hoffman belongs on it and so do Alice McDermott, Joyce Carol Oates and the unfortunately overlooked Lewis Nordan. If we go back a bit, so does William Maxwell. After reading Aimee Bender's new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, I would nominate her for inclusion on the list as well.

When the novel begins, Rose Edelstein is about to turn 9. Her mother decides to bake her a lemon-chocolate cake. When Rose bites into it, she discovers the most peculiar thing: She can taste the emotions of her mother, and while the cake itself is wonderful, her mother's emotions are anything but. The 'gift' quickly becomes a burden or — here, for once, I would not quibble with a publisher's jacket copy — 'a curse.' Rose begins to learn things about her mother, her father and her brother that most of us are blissfully unaware of. The novel, which covers a number of years, is a chronicle of her attempts to come to terms with what she knows." Steve Yarbrough, The Oregonian (read the entire Oregonian review)
"Review" by , "Charming and wistful....[Bender] harness[es] her exquisite, bizarre sensitivity, in this haunting examination."
"Review" by , "Bender deconstructs one of our most pleasurable activities, eating, and gives it a whole new flavor. She smooths out the lumps and grittiness of life to reveal its zest. Highly recommended for readers with sophisticated palates."
"Review" by , "[M]y guess is that this novel will be one of the year's highlights. Intense and compelling, it explores familial love in an unusually idiosyncratic but nonetheless convincing manner, and I find that I'm still thinking about Rose days after finishing the book."
"Review" by , "Haunting....Bender's prose delivers electric shocks....rendering the world in fresh, unexpected jolts. Moving, fanciful and gorgeously strange."
"Review" by , "[A] wacky stew of alienation and contradiction....unraveling family secrets as strangely lucid as they are nightmarish. At its core, Aimee Bender's novel The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake encourages us all to make the most of our unique gifts while still finding a way to live in the so-called real world."
"Synopsis" by , The wondrous Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse. The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale — heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad.
"Synopsis" by , On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother’s emotions in the slice. To her horror, she finds that her cheerful mother tastes of despair. Soon, she’s  privy to the secret knowledge that most families keep hidden: her father’s detachment, her mother’s transgression, her brother’s increasing retreat from the world. But there are some family secrets that even her cursed taste buds can’t discern.
"Synopsis" by , The wondrous Aimee Bender conjures the lush and moving story of a girl whose magical gift is really a devastating curse.

On the eve of her ninth birthday, unassuming Rose Edelstein, a girl at the periphery of schoolyard games and her distracted parents' attention, bites into her mother's homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she has a magical gift: she can taste her mother's emotions in the cake. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother--her cheerful, good-with-crafts, can-do mother--tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes a peril and a threat to Rose.

The curse her gift has bestowed is the secret knowledge all families keep hidden--her mother's life outside the home, her father's detachment, her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up she learns to harness her gift and becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is a luminous tale about the enormous difficulty of loving someone fully when you know too much about them. It is heartbreaking and funny, wise and sad, and confirms Aimee Bender's place as a writer who makes you grateful for the very existence of language (San Francisco Chronicle).

From the Hardcover edition.

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