The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
A Novel

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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).

BONUS: This edition includes an excerpt from Aimee Bender's The Color Master.
 

About Aimee Bender

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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.
 
Published May 26, 2010 by Anchor. 306 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Guardian

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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender Buy it from the Guardian bookshop Search the Guardian bookshop As Rose Edelstein turns nine, the simple task of...

Feb 05 2011 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

NPR

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Oftentimes, foodie fiction makes you hungry. But author Jessica Soffer recommends three books that deal with food yet aren't in love with it — books to read when you're on a diet, a desert island, or for whatever reason would like a peach tart to not be compared to a summer's day.

Apr 28 2013 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

NPR

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In Aimee Bender's high-hearted and soulful second novel, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, young Rose Edelstein discovers at age 9 that she can taste the emotions in her mother's lemon cake — "absence, hunger, spiraling, hollows."

Jun 10 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Examiner

It begins with her mother’s lemon cake with chocolate icing, a cake that leaves Rose feeling empty and sad.

Jun 19 2012 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

New York Journal of Books

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As Rose eats the foods her mother has prepared, she at first experiences her mother’s sadness, but later her guilt.

Jun 01 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Book Reporter

What Aimee Bender has made real in Rose's strange discovery is that for all of us food is intertwined with a wide-ranging swirl of emotions, and so it's almost possible to imagine those feelings translated, as they are for Rose, into tangible form.

Apr 19 2011 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

The Globe and Mail

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In Amy Bender's delicious new novel, a girl finds her mother's emotions on the end of a cake fork

Jun 11 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Entertainment Weekly

Aimee Bender's celebrated brand of modern magical realism takes a particularly spare, melancholy turn in her latest The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, the tale of Rose Edelstein, who discovers at 9 years old that she can taste in every bite of food the emotions of each person who has grown, h...

May 26 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Los Angeles Times

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It makes sense: Everything is made up of many things: Cells, fibers, chemicals and also the thoughts and feelings of the people who make the things.

Jun 06 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Christian Science Monitor

The story of a young girl who can taste guilt in roast beef and sadness in lemon cake.

Jun 24 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Oregon Live

The bowl of icing was right there on the counter, ready to go, and cakes are best when just out of the oven, and I really couldn't possibly wait, so I reached to the side of the cake pan, to the least obvious part, and pulled off a small warm spongy chunk of deep gold.

Jun 05 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

About.com Bestsellers

It is fun, but may not stick with you long.ProsThe Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake has a unique premise that is interesting to consider.There is a likable narrative voice.There is a good mix of revelation and mystery in the end.ConsIn some ways the book does not feel filled out enough, as if the...

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SF Signal

In this American culture where we constantly hear about obesity and that we must pay more attention to our food, a book about a young woman’s search to mitigate the emotional effects of eating freshly prepared food has an ironic ring.

Jun 25 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Story Circle Book Reviews

Rose's father won't go into hospitals, her aging grandmother sends Rose's mother packages of chairs and stale crackers, her brother's only friend pays more attention to her than her science-obsessed brother does, her mother finds new fulfillment in woodworking.

Aug 03 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Los Angeles Review of Books

Aimee Bender has penned two novels and two collections of short stories, including a New York Times Notable Book and an LA Times Pick of the Year.

Apr 10 2012 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Strange Horizons

Rosie tastes underneath the chocolate and lemon and butter, a "sensation of shrinking" and "distance" somehow connected, Rosie knows, to her mother.

Dec 01 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Fiction Writers Review

And it seems that by remembering that food is supposed to be nourishing, it is also simply to say that food, like story-telling, is part of what makes us human.

Oct 30 2010 | Read Full Review of The Particular Sadness of Lem...

Reader Rating for The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake
57%

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