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Literary Friday: The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

Friday, May 20, 2011


This week I read The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender.  I have had a very busy week, and I was worried I might not be able to finish a single book.  Well, no worries because I could not put this book down.  I had a couple of late nights reading it because it is that good.  Aimee Bender is a delightful writer.  Her prose is smooth, lyrical, and lovely.  The manner in which she writes about the love for family is sweet, poignant, and moving. This is the first of her books I have read, but it will not be the last.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake begins on the eve of Rose Edelstein's ninth birthday. Her mother has baked her a lemon cake with chocolate icing, and when Rose takes a bite, she can taste her mother's sadness.  She can also taste every nuance of the source of that sadness: a feeling of smallness and hollowness.  Rose's new skill soon develops to the point that she can not only detect the mood and thoughts of the person who made the food, but also locations from where ingredients derive. Naturally, Rose tries to protect herself by eating the most processed foods she can find, preferably manufactured by robotics. As a young adult, Rose eventually finds a French restaurant where she can tolerate the thoughts of the cook. Madame loves to cook, and her mood and thoughts are food-centric. Rose is in heaven eating at Madame's restaurant. She wants to learn more from Madame, so she takes a job there as a dishwasher.

Rose's "skill" pales in comparison to her big brother Joseph's.  Interestingly enough, unusual skills seem to run rampant in the Edelstein gene pool.  At first I thought Joseph had autism due to his interaction with people and other behaviors.  His "skill" was completely unpredictable and shocking. I do not want to ruin this part of the storyline with spoilers, but I will tell you that the relationship between Rose and Joseph is so sweet.  The parents' relationship is heartbreaking to me.  It begins sweetly and very romantically, but evolves into secrecy, transgression, and loneliness.  After all, Mom does not carry Edelstein genes, and Dad chooses to not share information that could have made all the difference.

I hope you will consider reading this book. Although it is not a happy read, it is an excellent one; you will not be disappointed.  Please join Bonnie and me for our What We're Reading Linky Party today.

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill



  1. You keep showing us books that I want to read. I best get on my summer reading if I am going to tackle this list.

  2. My TBR list just keeps on getting longer.
    Thanks for another interesting recommendation, enjoy your break

  3. Just coming by to say I hope you are having a nice time taking a break!!! Enjoy. :)

  4. Hi Ricki Jill - Just wanted to say "hello" and great job summarizing the book! You could have a second job as an editor or a critique. I have a book to recommend too that I just finished. It's called "Summer at Tiffany" and easy read and really fun. How can I join your linky party?

  5. Sounds fantastic and you write the best summaries!!
    Pamela xo

  6. Hi Ricki, I have been away and am now frantically trying to catch up, how can so much need doing after just a few days absence! Of course I made time to join the Reading Linky Party and visit the other participants.
    I have not heard of this author but it certainly sounds as if she writes an unusual story.

  7. I think I will enjoy reading this one. Thanks for the review!

  8. I've seen the description but not a review, this looks great, I may just have to get it for the Nook and take on vacay. Thanks for your thoughts. :)

  9. I put this on my to read list! Thanks for a great suggestion and for linking up. I'm thinking about you this weekend!

  10. This sounds really good. I'm looking forward to many quiet hours of reading this summer.

  11. What a unique story line! I will try to find it at the library!


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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