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
"Charming and wistful....[Bender] harness[es] her exquisite, bizarre sensitivity, in this haunting examination" (The Atlantic)
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.
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.
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.
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?
This is why authors should hire narrators. Aimee Bender's reading was so bad I had to stop after only 30mins.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Unlike most listeners, I didn't mind the narrator, but maybe that's because I'm from the UK. But as for the content - I just didn't get it, I didn't get what the brother was doing, I see from other reviews that that became clear in the last 10 mins but even going back to the last 10mins, I still didn't get it, and I couldn't be bothered to go back further. I would be pleased to find the answer to that, as for the rest of it, it just seemed that each family member had strange problems.
Would I recommend it? NO, definitely not. Life is too short to waste 8 hours listening to this!
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