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The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake | [Aimee Bender]

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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).

©2010 Aimee Bender (P)2010 Random House

What the Critics Say

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

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.1 (356 )
5 star
 (45)
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Overall
3.3 (112 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
3.3 (114 )
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 (16)
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3 star
 (36)
2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    TheDallesmbt The Dalles, OR 04-02-11
    TheDallesmbt The Dalles, OR 04-02-11 Member Since 2010

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
    20
    ratings
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    92
    15
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    1
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    Overall
    "Interesting Premise"

    Imagine tasting food and having the flavor overwhelmed by the emotions of the preparer. This is the story of a young girl who has this gift (or curse) and the effect it has on her live. It begins when her depressed mother wants her to taste a lemon cake, and each bite is unbearably sad. It is also the more involved tale of a dysfunctional but oddly gifted family. The premise is interesting, but even as fiction becomes very difficult to understand the brother's difficulties. In addition, a reader other than the author may have been able to bring the characters to life, making them more compelling.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Sylvia Lac Le Jeune, British Columbia, Canada 02-24-11
    Sylvia Lac Le Jeune, British Columbia, Canada 02-24-11 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    12
    4
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    "5/5"

    I'm so glad I ignored the reviews on this one! I don't give 5/5 very often, but the book really captured my attention and imagination. I found the pace to be perfect for a story about a supposedly ordinary family, and those little absurd surprises kept me turning the pages (so to speak). I enjoy books that are narrated by the authors; it brings you closer to the intentions of the characters. In this case too, the low key narration left a lot for the listener to fill in.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Natalie Gaythorne, Australia 02-17-11
    Natalie Gaythorne, Australia 02-17-11 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    8
    3
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    "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake"

    I am listening to this book at the moment and am enjoying it. I'm glad I already downloaded it before reading the discouraging reviews as I'm sure they would have disuaded me from choosing this book which would have been a shame. l have favourite narrators but I also like to have variety of content and narration. Take the opprotunity to preview the narrator and give this book a chance.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Cynthia Huntington Beach, CA, United States 11-10-10
    Cynthia Huntington Beach, CA, United States 11-10-10 Member Since 2010
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    1
    1
    Overall
    "Don't make the mistake of giving up on this book!"

    I started listening to this book and at first was very put off by the voice of the author/narrator. I then looked back and read the Audible reviews and found I was not the only one with this initial reaction. Fortunately, my husband encouraged me to 'give it one more commute'. Thankfully I listened to both him and the book for one more day on my trek from Orange County to LA. I soon got hooked, began caring about the characters, the plot and found myself looking forward to getting in my car every day. (Don't tell anyone I said that!) If you have the patience to get beyond the intial slowness of the book, you will be rewarded!

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Myrmaid 08-20-10
    Myrmaid 08-20-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    9
    4
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    Overall
    "Excellent Story - read adequately - enjoyable"

    Excellent Story - author reads adequately - I listen to books not necessarily to be entained by the reader but to hear the story and I found the reader was fine and had adquate voice fluxuations for the stories tone. With the word "sadness" in the title you can guess it is a bit on the darker side. This was one of the better stories I have listed to this year.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Raleigh, NC 08-10-10
    Amazon Customer Raleigh, NC 08-10-10 Member Since 2006
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    38
    2
    Overall
    "Partucularly Sad Lemons"

    I wish I had had the benefit of these reviews before I purchased and started listening to this book.

    My first bit of irratation come from listening to Aimee Bender's annoying voice. I was at first hopeful that she was just going to read the dedication and intro info but then when I realized that she would be reading the entire book, I became particularly sad.

    This sadness has become more pronounced as I continue to listen - I am two hours into the eight hour book and still cannot get interested. The plot is minimal, the writing style unisteresting. If there were a way to get my money refunded, I would ask for it on this book. I think I will just put it to the side and read something else.

    Please, listen to the sample and read the other reviews before purchasing this book.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Colleen Brookdale, CA, United States 08-04-10
    Colleen Brookdale, CA, United States 08-04-10 Member Since 2005
    HELPFUL VOTES
    8
    ratings
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    95
    11
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    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "Odd but engaging"

    I know this is a favorite with critics (or at least what I've read) but to me, it was a little bit of a letdown. I had just listened to Shantaram so it was such a slower pace and perhaps I was just not ready for such a leap in tempo. I believe it's read by the author and I really wish the author's would leave the narration to the professionals. The low key voice in this book didn't help. However, I was engaged until all the sudden the book just ended. I realize that a point was made but it was so abrupt that I felt cheated.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christina Z. CT, USA 07-16-10
    Christina Z. CT, USA 07-16-10 Member Since 2008
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    80
    6
    FOLLOWERS
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    0
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    Overall
    "Ultimately a good listen."

    At first I had a very difficult time listening to the narration; the narrators voice was so grating and her inflections jarring. After awhile the story became so adsorbing that I realized it wasn't bothering me any more and indeed, I felt it was appropriate to the character. I didn't like the ending- it was a little bit hard to swallow; and that is why I gave it four out of five stars.

    0 of 3 people found this review helpful
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