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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Sarah Broadhurst's view...

October 2014 Guest Editor Cecelia Ahern on The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake...

I love how Aimee Bender views the world. She has a quirky take on every day life and I find that inspiring. This is about a character who discovers that she has the magical gift of being able to taste peoples’ emotions in the food that they prepare. When she is nine years old she bites into a lemon cake and tastes her mother’s emotions. This is not a gift as her happy mother, tastes of desperation and sadness. The character learns that it can be heartbreaking to know the hidden thoughts and secrets of the people you love and she must learn how to detach herself from the problems of strangers.

The Lovereading view...

One of our Great Reads you may have missed in 2011.

Young Rose, aged 9 when the story opens, finds that she can tell the mood of the person who cooked the food she is eating. It turns out that the rest of her family have some pretty weird traits too but it all seems quite natural – rather as The Time Traveler’s Wife settings seemed natural at the time of reading. So this is not for the literal minded, it’s magical realism beautifully written, a bit sad and very special.

A Richard and Judy Autumn Read 2011.

If you like Aimee Bender you might also like to read books by Patricia Schonstein, Ali Shaw and Audrey Niffenegger.

Who is Sarah Broadhurst


The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

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 slice. She discovers this gift to her horror, for her mother – her cheerful, can-do mother – tastes of despair and desperation. Suddenly, and for the rest of her life, food becomes perilous. Anything can be revealed at any meal.

Rose’s gift forces her to confront the secret knowledge all families keep hidden – truths about her mother's life outside the home, her father's strange detachment and her brother's clash with the world. Yet as Rose grows up, she realises there are some secrets that even her taste buds cannot discern.

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'Moving, fanciful, and gorgeously strange.' -- People

'One of the year's highlights. Intense and compelling.' -- The Oregonian

'Marvelous. . . . Few writers are as adept as Bender at mingling magical elements so seamlessly with the ordinary.' -- San Francisco Chronicle

'A richly imagined, bittersweet tale.' -- Vanity Fair

'Convincing and elegant. . . . A novel with a deeply involving plot, one full of provocative ideas.' -- The Boston Globe

'Extraordinary. . . . Not just a deeply felt novel but one of the most inventive pieces of food writing in recent memory.' -- Time Out New York

'Profound and eye-opening. . . . You feel--that rare and beautiful gift from a truly great book--woken up and unalone.' -- The Globe and Mail (Toronto)

'Rose is an irresistible narrator: warm, witty and sharply observant. . . . Exuberant, life-affirming.' -- The Miami Herald

About the Author

Aimee Bender is the author of the novel An Invisible Sign of My Own and of the collections The Girl in the Flammable Skirt and Wilful Creatures. Her work has been widely anthologised and has been translated into ten languages. She lives in Los Angeles.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th June 2011


Aimee Bender

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Author's Website


Windmill Books an imprint of Cornerstone


336 pages


Literary Fiction
Family Drama
Relationship Stories
eBook Favourites

Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)



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