Monday, 21 May 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Find this book on Goodreads
I just want to say a quick apology for not visiting many blogs recently. Lots of stuff going on, not enough time to do it! Hopefully, normal service will return shortly. In the meantime, thank you for visiting me!

My Monday blogs are not designed to be book reviews. Instead they highlight books (and sometimes films or music) which hold a particular meaning for me, or influenced me, or just made me think. I hope you enjoy!


For those of you who are relatively new to my blog, you probably missed my mentions of this book. For those who've been around for a while, you probably couldn't avoid them!

I loved this book. I told everyone about this book. I wanted to have written this book.

If you've never heard of it, it tells the story of Rose who finds that she experiences the feelings of the person who made the food she's eating. In the case of manufactured food, she can even tell the area the food was made. She makes this discovery when she eats a slice of lemon cake her mother has made - her mother is not a happy woman.

From then on, Rose learns a lot about her mother she'd rather not know, and with the help of a friend, she searches for the most factory-produced foods she can find - the food without feeling. Later in the book, we learn Rose isn't the only person in her family to be afflicted with a strange gift.

What I loved more than anything about this book is that at no time did Bender try to explain why this was happening to Rose. It just was. I've written short stories where I've dropped readers into something and not given an explanation, but I was never sure whether it would work in a full-length novel.

That, though, is the point which seems to divide the reviewers on Goodreads. Some people love the fact it's a quirky read and makes you do some of the work - you have to make a few decisions yourself as to what you think is going on. Others hate it because there's no explanation, and to some extent no ending - they feel cheated that the story isn't fully opened out, and doesn't fit into the world they already know.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? Is there a book you'd recommend for being slightly abnormal?

26 comments:

  1. I haven't read this book but I've heard about it. Must have read about it here! I'm intrigued by this idea of 'reading' smells. I do believe we're all far more sensitive than we realise. Maybe we should all try and develop our latent powers... now you've got me thinking far too deeply for a Monday morning

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    1. I'm sure we must have latent powers of the brain - telepathy maybe?

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  2. I love the idea - what an imagination the writer has. I will look out for this book.

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    1. Yes, she's certainly imaginative, and she also write beautiful prose.

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  3. I thought the writing was lovely and the fact that there was no "explanation" for her gift didn't bother me (although if I recall, isn't there mention later of someone in the family - grandmother? - having something similar?)

    But I didn't enjoy it as much as I wanted to. I didn't care for the whole thread with the brother, and I just felt like the story itself went on way too long.

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    1. Yes, it was an inherited trait. You maybe have a point about the length, but I was immersed, so I didn't notice it was overly long. Maybe if you were already dissatisfied, you'd notice it more.

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  4. Ooh I can already taste that lemon on my tongue. I haven't read the book but i want to! I will have to get it now thanks for the review.

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    1. You're welcome Madeleine, I hope you enjoy it.

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  5. I was going to make a comment about really craving some lemon cake before I read the concept of this story. How awesome is that idea? I'm definitely going to read this soon!

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    1. And now we can both crave lemon cake!

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  6. I never feel I need to know why, as long as the how works.

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  7. Ooo, I need to add that to my TBR list. Sounds like something I'd enjoy. I don't always need to know why either. Sometimes the why spoils a story for me.

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    1. If everything is spelt out, it ruins the fun somehow.

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  8. It seems like a lot of writers are cutting back on blogging lately. It takes a lot of time away from other stuff, like writing your own novels. It's hard to balance it all.

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    1. Yes, I've been reading a lot of people saying they're cutting back. I suppose there's a natural ebb and flow to the blogging world.

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  9. I've been a horrible blog visitor lately too. Life is just crazy right now!

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    1. It's taking a lot longer to get around to everyone, now that I follow so many people!

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  10. I love the sound of this book. Tastes are so subjective, pardon the pun, but I mean reviews. Must read it.

    Denise

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    1. I'm glad I've encouraged you to read it. Hope you enjoy!

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  11. I love (and need) getting new recommendations and this one definitely caught my eye. Thank you! I just read Ali Shaw's The Man Who Rained - yes, it was a man who was also the weather, he had a thunderstorm going on inside him. Again, the reason why this happened wasn't mentioned. It just was. Just my sort of book!

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    1. That's a new book for me. It sounds great, thanks for telling me about it!

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  12. This sounds interesting. I wouldn't need to know why something odd happened as long as the characters weren't freaking out about it.
    Heather

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    1. Rose tries to find a way around the problem, but I don't think she ever questions why.

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  13. Oh, what an intriguing basis for a story. Sounds really good, like it has a lot of heart! Thanks for passing this along.

    Shannon at The Warrior Muse, road tripping through the #atozchallenge participants!

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    1. It was the title that made me buy it, but I'm glad I did.

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Please comment - I love a good chat!