Tallaght Library Bookclub
Date: 4th October 2011
6:45pm start, 7:45pm end
We had 12 at our bookclub this month, the book for discussion was The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
The main character is Rose Edelstein, a young girl who discovers at the age of 9 that when she eats food prepared by other people she can feel their emotions through the food. It begins with a lemon chocolate birthday cake her mother has made for her birthday which tastes of her mother’s deep despair. Her “special skill” becomes more pronounced as time goes on so that she can taste the origin of ingredients too and tell how the food was grown or raised. The novel follows Rose into adulthood and examines her relationships with those around her including her brother who becomes more withdrawn from the world as time goes on.
Opinions on this book were quite uniform and mainly negative. One positive was that the book was an easy read but for some the lack of quotation marks became irritating after a while.The intial concept sounded interesting and most had high expectations for it but the plot quickly became ridiculous especially where Joe, Roses’s brother was concerned. A common complaint was that a number of subplots and characters were introduced but never went anywhere. For instance the maternal grandmother regularly sent “gifts” to the family in the post of unwanted junk and she had a poor relationship with Rose’s mother but this relationship was never explained. The family was very disjointed and uncommunicative and the story wasn’t at all uplifting. The only character who was appealing was Joe’s childhood friend George but his appeal might have been that he was “normal” compared to Rose’s family.
The concept was good and should have made a good novel but the plot and execution weren’t very good. A few people remarked on the fact the title and artwork on the cover were very good and would make you want to read the book. A bookclub score of 3/10 was awarded for this book. The website www.goodreads.com was recommended as a good one for ordinary readers’ reviews of books