Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. By Violet

I picked this book up while browsing at the bookstore earlier this summer. When the Daily Beast listed it as one of their best books of the year, I decided to give it a try.
I was fascinated by the premise of the book - a young girl discovers that she can taste the feelings of the person who has made her meal.

One great advantage I had with this book is I read it incredibly fast – I had an early afternoon off of work, a weekend at the beach and a long ferry line which pretty much took care of the entire book.

Amiee Bender has a refreshing writing style that is straightforward but uniquely captures moods, emotions and characters. One of my favorites was her description of Rose’s friends from school, they were “down-hill girls.” As if all of their lives they were just coasting with no real obstacles to overcome. The imagery is wonderful and you instantly get the impression that she is going for.

There was something about the beginning that made me think it was supposed to be set in the 50s or 60s. Maybe it was the necular family, the mother staying at home and the father off work every morning with dinner on the table when he returns. But the peppered in references to e-mail, medical TV dramas, leaf blowers and other modern amenities of life bring it crashing back into present day. It was jarring to constantly remind myself of the time, instead of just letting the scenes wash over me.

I was drawn into the story and the idea that the narrator could gather so much knowledge simply by eating a meal. What consequences would this have on her life? How would this change the relationships she had with her family? What advantages and disadvantages would this bring? What did this say about the role of food?

Much of my questions are explored but the story takes a strange and unexpected turn near the middle of the book. This strange shift of focus really took away from the central character and, what I thought, was the central idea of the book.

However, Bender’s writing kept me transfixed on the story. And even though I was unsure of where the story was headed it seems to wrap back around to the original themes bought up in the beginning.

But I still have an unsettled feeling about the novel. A co-worker asked if I would recommend it and I was stumped.

However, I will say this, I’m likely going to go back and read more of Amiee Bender’s work.

Violet in Seychelles Fiddle - distressed brown booties


  1. Hmmmm, interesting. I'll have to read it one of these days. :)

  2. I keep meaning to bring it in for you!