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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
  • 5 Stars
    78
  • 4 Stars
    126
  • 3 Stars
    125
  • 2 Stars
    78
  • 1 Stars
    55

Performance

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

Story

  • 3.4 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    46
  • 4 Stars
    54
  • 3 Stars
    58
  • 2 Stars
    27
  • 1 Stars
    19
Sort by:
  • Overall

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.

18 of 19 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

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.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Pamela
  • Naperville, IL, USA
  • 07-01-10

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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

  • Overall
  • Robert
  • Castro Valley, CA, United States
  • 07-11-10

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • scarletangel
  • 8 The Sedges, St Leonard's on Sea, East Sussex TN38 9TU
  • 03-31-11

???? what was it about?

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!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • S
  • New York, NY, United States
  • 08-22-10

Disappointing....

I so wanted to love this book. What an interesting premise, wonderful material... yet so poorly executed. I agree with previous reviews that this book needed a more attentive editor and a professional reader. (I enjoy autobiographies read by the authors, but otherwise it adds nothing, certainly a very poor choice in this case.) A nine year-old with the entirety of her experience in California cannot possibly imagine fields in Kansas and Nebraska. The author tries very hard to convey the overwhelming confusion of a child trying to cope with adult emotions she is forced to taste and consume, but fails to consistently represent the child's experience and point of view. What a waste. This manuscript was not nearly polished enough to have been published.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Robin
  • West Bloomfield, MI, United States
  • 08-21-10

ridiculous

It's amazing to me that this got so many good reviews. The premise is absolutely ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, I am happy to suspend disbelief and entertain fanciful notions if they have some point. What was the point here? A family with strange and pointless special abilities? It goes nowhere.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

The Particular Sadness of Bad Writing

Yes, the narration if horrible, but I am mostly disappointed in a story that went absolutely nowhere and takes 8 hours to do it. Imagine being stuck on a detour that loops in circles with no scenic stimulation all day! We are led by characters with no depth and as far as I can tell, no redeeming qualities. I didn't care about anyone. Bender's hook was great and as such, obviously her agent and publisher believed it was enough. Too bad so many trees were killed to make this a "bestseller." I'm glad at least my misery was an easily deletable download.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Claire Jackson
  • 09-13-16

Interesting story

The story is quite good, and gets better as it progresses, but it is let down by the ending. Also the author needs to let go and use proper voice actors as she does not do her story justice.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Sarah
  • 07-08-13

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.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful