Friday, 8 April 2011

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

I have just finished reading a great book. A really good four star type of book (Five being ‘top notch’. One being ‘send to the pulp machine immediately’). Aimee Bender’s The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake was a birthday present from my parents, the other month. We were in the local bookshop and to tell you the truth, I let out a gasp. The bookshop doesn’t normally have books that I like in there (quirky, cult-ish, surrealist, etc.) The quote from Jodi Picoult didn’t put me off either. My Mum did say, are you sure, because I know you found Picoult same-y after two books?
I had heard about Aimee Bender through Nik Perring’s blog after he interviewed her. I loved the interview and went away and read some of her online short stories and checked out her website. Quiet Please is a great one. The Rememberer is a good one too.

Anyway, back to the book.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake is about Rose Edelstein, who, on the verge of turning nine, bites into her Mother’s homemade lemon-chocolate cake and discovers she can taste emotion. She can taste the emotions that people are trying to cover up. And her brother… but that would be a spoiler. This book is about growing up, relationships, facing the real world, fear. The way that the fantastic is told in a normal, everyday setting, as if having a ‘power’ was normal is brilliant. The story is told in a subtle way and convincing too.

I see, via Goodreads (On you on there? It’s a social network site for book lovers – I want to stalk your reading tastes – please join!), that a few people felt disappointed that there was no indication between dialogue and the story. It’s experimental, people, move with the times. I like a book that challenges me to take more time over the words and makes me sit up and pay attention.

Bender’s writing style is sharp. She tells the story in a beautiful way without getting sentimental. The descriptions of the food are mouth-watering and reminds me of Nigel Slater’s Toast.


Alienist said...

Hmm, it sounds good and it's on a secondary list but I think I'd be picturing 'Chew' if I read this now.

(Chew is a comic and potentially a TV show in which the main character can see the history of any meat he eats. He's a special agent and has to chomp on dead bodies sometimes...)

Jessica said...

Maybe, because it's early on a Sunday but the whole chomping on dead bodies sounds a bit too much for me!