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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 (354 )
5 star
 (45)
4 star
 (98)
3 star
 (104)
2 star
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1 star
 (47)
Overall
3.3 (110 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Story
3.3 (112 )
5 star
 (16)
4 star
 (35)
3 star
 (36)
2 star
 (15)
1 star
 (10)
Performance
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  •  
    Victoria Minneapolis, MN 07-11-10
    Victoria Minneapolis, MN 07-11-10 Listener Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    15
    ratings
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    16
    3
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    "I'm Going to Read the Actual Book"

    Bad News: The author has the most horrific and irritating voice I've ever heard. It's whiny and monotone. Run, don't walk, away from this audio book.
    Good News: The story is intriguing enough where I am going to spend yet more money to purchase the actual book and finish it.

    15 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    07-25-10
    07-25-10 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    13
    ratings
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    73
    7
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    "The Particular Sadness ofLemon Cake"

    I enjoyed the book, great story, but would have gotten more out of it if there would have been a different reader. The reader was very slow and lost me several times.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Pamela Naperville, IL, USA 07-01-10
    Pamela Naperville, IL, USA 07-01-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
    ratings
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    1
    1
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    "A hard listen __ MONOTONE"

    While I have not finished the story. I am having a hard time listening. The reader has a monotone voice coupled with A LOT of I said, She said, He said ... So much so, that I all I remember is those phrases and not the story. Perhaps this would be better with a professional reader. Wish I could get a refund.

    16 of 18 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Peter amsterdam, Netherlands 07-24-10
    Peter amsterdam, Netherlands 07-24-10
    HELPFUL VOTES
    10
    ratings
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    3
    3
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    "Very, very disappointing."

    Mrs. Bender had an intruiging idea: Rose's gift is something very original, and could potentially be the starting point of a great story. The book starts off well enough, although I found it hard to believe that a nine year old girl would have the thoughts and observations that Rose has in the beginning of the book: she just sounds too adult and mature for a young child.

    A bigger problem was that right from the start the voice and the rendition of Mrs. Bender annoyed me to no end: she reads the story agonizingly slow, takes long pauses that take any kind of flow out of the narration and her voice is flat, nasal and uninspired. Apart from that, she often stops in midsentence at odd moments, so it seems like she doesn't even understand her own words. She should have never read this book herself, please leave it to the professionals.

    The book has some nice moments and touching descriptions of people and their lives. At first it reminded me of "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold, a great story that actually seems to go somewhere and keeps you interested until the last page. The "Lemon Cake" story just seems to have no point whatsoever and when the special "talent" of Rose's brother was revealed, Mrs. Bender lost me completely. It was just too bizarre.

    I was determined to listen all the way to the end, to find out if somehow the story would come together, so I struggled on for hours, listening to hundreds of "He said"s and "She said"s until I was totally willing to throw in the towel. Then, seemingly out of nowhere: there was the end, resolving nothing, and leaving me baffled and very, very disappointed.

    I can't believe Audible highlighted this book, as if it's one not to be missed. Maybe a marketing trick to get at least some people to buy it, before it was reviewed?

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Virginia Newark, New York, United States 02-24-11
    Virginia Newark, New York, United States 02-24-11 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    2
    1
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    "Author Narrators"

    This is why authors should hire narrators. Aimee Bender's reading was so bad I had to stop after only 30mins.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Helene Washington Island, WI, United States 07-09-10
    Helene Washington Island, WI, United States 07-09-10 Member Since 2006

    An older (70) avid audio reader, I enjoy all kinds of books. Frequently will audio-read a book that I wouldn't spend the time to print-read...especially classics that were read in high-school or college. I'm a Ph.D. Industrial Psychologist, intelligent with a genuine appreciation for good writing in almost any genre.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    21
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    73
    5
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    1
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    "The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake"

    If I could rate this book and it's author reader below a one, I would. The last good thing is the title. That this book is being pushed is a tribute not to publishing, but to marketing and placement gurus who know how to sell even the worst kind of junk. The author needs better editing ... he said, I said, she said ... we get it. The audio edition needs a better narrator. The worst book I've ever ordered from Audible. What's your refund policy?????

    Helene/Washington Island, WI

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Dogyeller 07-07-10
    Dogyeller 07-07-10 Listener Since 2009
    HELPFUL VOTES
    22
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    9
    6
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    10
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    "Interesting concept ineptly executed"

    Maybe it was the author's annoying narration, or perhaps it was the frustratingly inarticulate characters, but I had to force myself to finish listening to this novel. It took me a couple of weeks to complete its 8-plus hours -- the last two hours were excruciating. In contrast, I've completed 22-hour novels in a frenzy of enjoyment over just a few days. This novel is torture.

    Long, boring and pointless paragraphs are devoted to stilted dialog marked by the main character's inability to describe to her father and friends what had already been described to the reader. We get it! The people in this family don't talk to each other. They are trapped in their own little islands of secrets, silence and fear. As such, they are not terribly interesting people to spend time with.

    What should have been novel's peak -- when the main character's special talent is finally out in the open and she is offered a couple of chances to put it to good use -- falls flat due a rather obvious "duh" plot turn. Ditto for when the brother's "secret" experiment is finally explained (in the last 10 minutes). I saw both coming from a mile away and kept wondering when the protagonist would figure it out. Suffice it to say, this novel left a bad taste in my mouth.

    7 of 8 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wendy kfar sabaIsrael 07-19-10
    Wendy kfar sabaIsrael 07-19-10 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "boring!!!!!"

    This book never got me involved, the simplistic sentence structures and vocabulary the author seems to purposely use to appeal to readers who can't comprehend anything more complex, and the lack of a real plot or conflict simply bored me completely and turned me off.I didn't bother to finish it. A waste of money.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Robert Castro Valley, CA, United States 07-11-10
    Robert Castro Valley, CA, United States 07-11-10 Member Since 2000
    HELPFUL VOTES
    97
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    3
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    "A thinly stretched story broken by the reader"

    I pride myself that I finish every book I purchase from Audible but this one came the closest yet to being abandoned part way through. The central idea for the story is facinating but the author seems utterly unable to deal effectively with it. Couple this with a narrator whose reading and voice verge on the irritating and the result fails to merit even a single star.

    6 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 10-27-11
    Bonny Flemington, NJ, United States 10-27-11 Member Since 2009

    Mother, knitter, reader, lifelong learner, technical writer, former library assistant & hematologist.

    HELPFUL VOTES
    359
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    "Interesting idea, poorly executed"

    I'm not sure it's fair to be irritated with an author because they didn't write the book that I wanted to read, but that may be warranted with The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. Rose Edelstein's ability to taste the emotions of the person who prepared her food was initially very interesting to me; I thought of it as a type of synesthesia and was looking forward to seeing how Aimee Bender explored the subject. That plot line gets dropped about halfway through the book; then the real strangeness starts, and the book becomes Rose's brother's story.

    The only reason I remotely enjoyed this book was because of this one line, a statement by Rose's mother, "Sometimes, she said mostly to herself, I feel I do not know my children"..."That she might not actually know us seemed the humblest thing a mother could admit." I've been thinking about this a lot recently as my children have grown up and left home. We feel as if we know them so well as children because we willingly tend to all their physical and emotional needs over 18 years or so, and know so many aspects of their lives and thoughts, but lately I've had to remind myself that I need to know them as the adults they are currently and are becoming

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Showing: 1-10 of 48 results PREVIOUS125NEXT
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  • Sarah
    Crewe, United Kingdom
    7/8/13
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Disappointing"
    Would you try another book written by Aimee Bender or narrated by Aimee Bender?

    Sadly no as I didn't enjoy the story or like the tone of the narrator. I gave up listening part way through.


    Would you ever listen to anything by Aimee Bender again?

    I don't think so.


    How could the performance have been better?

    I am not sure if it was the accent I disliked or the story in general.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    I was disappointed in the story to begin with and then I stopped listening as the whole tone of the thing just made me feel sad.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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