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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

Critic Reviews

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

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 3.2 out of 5.0
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    78
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    126
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    125
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    78
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    55

Performance

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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    46
  • 4 Stars
    58
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    54
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    25
  • 1 Stars
    23

Story

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
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    46
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    54
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    58
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    27
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  • Overall

Author is a terrible narrator - story is so-so

Why would an author think she is a better reader for an audiobook than a trained professional? Her publisher and producer should have had the guts to tell that she's not up to the task. Their honesty might have given this light and somewhat interesting work a chance as an audiobook. Instead, listeners are subject to 8 hours of an annoying monotone. While some snippets of decent writing managed to emerge despite the mangled delivery, the book never seemed to fulfill its early promise. Too bad -- I had high hopes.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Peter
  • amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 07-24-10

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?

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Surpisingly Bad Experiance of Lemon Cake

This was a case of "Don't judge a book by it's cover." Which, I did. And it tricked me into buying it despite seeing a few negative reviews! The authors reading style leaves a lot to be desired, the characters are frustrating, you feel bad for the main character throughout the entire novel, the ending will have you raging, and overall the idea of this book is a lot better in your head. Don't be fooled by the cake like I was.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Sad

I really wanted to like this book and pushed through to the end though several times I wanted to hit the delete button and be done with it. The story is so slow, and desperately sad. The reader was a perfect match to the story content--cold, irritated, depressed. I usually don't write reviews and I generally like the books I get on audible very much, but I had to write one this time. If someone is interested in this book, I would suggest reading it not listening to it and then only if you are in a very, very good mood and willing to be brought down a notch or too. In a word--Sad.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Thoughtful novel; clear reader

Unlike other reviewers, I liked the author's reading. She speaks clearly and does not over-act the characters. This leaves more to the listener's imagination and calls more attention to the carefully crafted words. However, I advise other customers to try the audio preview to decide for themselves.

The novel itself is one of the best I've read/heard in the past year.

5 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Description of Food

I love the writer's description of the food! This book made slow down and savor my food and cook with happy music.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Disappointment

Narrator is terrible. Spoke slowly and without inflection in her voice. I had to double the speed to get through the book. The book had interesting nuggets that didn't link to anything logical to keep your interest. Characters were vaguely developed and did not have meaningful interrelationships. The end was unfathomable, indecipherable, and discombobulated. When finished my only thought was huh?

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Boring

Boring, slow. I like quirky stories but this was just pretentious. Narration stained, didn't help.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

A wonderfully creative and quirky piece of fiction

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, this book is beautiful in its oddness.

What did you like best about this story?

Quirkiness draws me in.

Which character – as performed by Aimee Bender – was your favorite?

The narrator

If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

Unique gifts difficulty embraced.

Any additional comments?

I like Bender's voice as it seems to fit the narrator's persona.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I hope this book survived a thousand years

even if your just take the story at face value, its a classic. but why would you ever stop there?