The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
By Aimee Bender
(Doubleday, Hardcover, 9780385501125, 304pp.)
Publication Date: June 1, 2010
List Price: $25.95*
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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).
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.
On the face of it, the Edelsteins appear to be a stereotypical middle-class family, with little Rose about to turn nine. Her birthday cake changes everything as family secrets begin to bubble to the surface. Host Liane Hansen talks to author Aimee Bender about her new novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. More at NPR.org
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- Rose goes through life feeling people’s emotions through their food. Many eat to feel happy and comforted. Does this extreme sensory experience bring any happiness to Rose or only sadness?