The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender is one of those books that I have read glowing reviews about, and then have heard from two close friends of their own disinterest in the novel. My own thoughts on it are somewhere in the middle. I am not gushing, but I did enjoy it. The one thing that I most noted about this book was the writing and the way in which Bender was able to describe things- I could easily picture in my mind what she was writing about and she was so adept at describing minute details of everyday life.
Rose Edelstein is just a child when she discovers a strange talent: she can taste emotions in the food she eats. If her mother was unhappy while preparing her food, unhappiness is what comes through when Rose eats what her mother has made for her. Every morsel that crosses Rose's lips provides this bizarre experience. Rose's brother has his own peculiarity/gift as does her father. And it is from her mother's cooking that Rose first learns of her mother's dissatisfaction with her life. While this book seems to tell a story that is one of fantasy, and truly could never happen, it reads like realistic fiction.
Reading The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake got me thinking about my own eating experiences. I don't claim to have the fantastical gift of tasting emotions in my cooking like Rose, but the skill she had of dissecting the flavors from the food she was eating was such an interesting idea to me. As someone who often rushes through meals, it has made me stop and think a bit about the foods I eat and their origins.
Great writing, interesting topic - a unique selection for book clubs to discuss.