Join Aimee Bender to talk about THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE, our October Book of the Month, TONIGHT, from 9pm

(166 Posts)

October's Book of the Month is THE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE by Aimee Bender, a New York Times bestseller and a recent Richard and Judy pick. Rose Edelstein lives in Los Angeles with her seemingly happy family. When she bites into a birthday cake on her ninth birthday, she suddenly tastes her mother's loneliness and unhappiness. After that, she can taste emotion in every morsel: anger in cookies made by a cross chef, distraction in her father's pudding, weariness in factory-processed butter. Worst of all, the blankness in her brother's toast. As Rose grows up, she finds her gift reveals all sorts of secrets she'd rather not confront, but that it cannot tell her everything...

Find out more about Lemon Cake on our book of the month page.

The lovely people at Random House have 50 copies to give away to Mumsnetters -just email your name and address to comps@randomhouse.co.uk and put Lemon Cake/Mumsnet in the subject box (THE BOOKS HAVE NOW ALL GONE)

Otherwise, you can get your paperback or Kindle version now.

We are thrilled that Aimee will be chatting to us about The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake and all her other books on Wednesday 2 November 9-10 pm. Look forward to seeing you there.

Gethsemane Tue 15-Nov-11 19:27:39

This was a very readable book. Enjoyable, but left me wondering what the point of a couple of strands of the story line were for - they didn't seem to have any conclusion (e.g. the Dad and his dislike of hospitals). Perhaps I missed the point.....

gailforce1 Thu 03-Nov-11 17:34:11

Tilly Another great bookclub evening - thank you!

I think that this year, with one exception, the books have been well chosen and the discussions have been excellent. I really enjoy being able to look back over the chats as I cannot get to a book club in RL so am grateful for this opportunity.
Have just seen the thread for the November book and have e mailed for my free copy - looks very interesting.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 22:20:10

Yes, thanks from me too, Aimee, for a fascinating webchat.

BodyOfEeyore Wed 02-Nov-11 22:10:43

Thank you, Aimee. It's been an honour to 'speak' to the author of such a thought-provoking book.

I have been madly trying to get colleagues to give it a read so I can chat about it, so this experience has been great.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 22:08:41

TillyBookClub

I think that's everyone's messages answered... thanks to everyone for a fantastic discussion and apologies if we have missed any of your questions...

Aimee, it has been a truly enlightening evening - thank you so much for your illuminating answers and letting us in on your creative process. As mentioned already, your description of a 'spectrum of sensitivity' has crystallised the book for me. I'm looking forward to re-reading it already.

Good luck with the next novel and can't wait to see what you write next.

Many thanks again...

Thanks to you too. I enjoyed it lots.

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 22:07:44

Thanks so much !! Loved this experience!

I think that's everyone's messages answered... thanks to everyone for a fantastic discussion and apologies if we have missed any of your questions...

Aimee, it has been a truly enlightening evening - thank you so much for your illuminating answers and letting us in on your creative process. As mentioned already, your description of a 'spectrum of sensitivity' has crystallised the book for me. I'm looking forward to re-reading it already.

Good luck with the next novel and can't wait to see what you write next.

Many thanks again...

Mrsoverreaction Wed 02-Nov-11 22:03:35

Fabulous comments, questions and answers. Thanks so much Aimee and all other posters; have enjoyed reading everyone's insightful and thought provoking comments. And makes a change from other useless tosh I'd often be looking at on internet! ;-)

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 22:03:05

TillyBookClub

Help, that hour went by in a heartbeat.

Aimee, are you happy to answer the few remaining questions? And then we'll let you get back to your glass of wine/supper/tea (what time is it for you in LA?)

Yes! Happy to. I think I got them all but let me know if you see some... it was a true pleasure doing this, thank you and thanks for all the great questions. Yes-- 3pm in LA-- sunny still outside. Have a good night across the Atlantic.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 22:01:57

oldenglishspangles

Thank you for answering my question. Now you have answered it, I cant believe I missed it. I loved the way the book allowed me to empathise with Rose, in that there are certain feelings / emotions in people I feel/ sense which makes me uncomfortable. I can't always stop thinking about them, its almost like a sensory overload. Interestingly I liked the way my emotions conflicted in respect of Joseph. I felt consfused and frustrated that he shut himself of,f but at the same time envied the fact that he could find peace in escaping from world when it all got too much.

What a great comment-- thank you. That's exactly what I meant-- sensory overload. It is part of what makes you you, and also can be a burden. Exactly. A woman I know said she got to the end of the book and said, "Ah! I am a chair, too!" and was a little overwhelmed by the thought and it was unbelievably meaningful to hear. Maybe part of sensitivity is having a little chair/escape inside, and it's complicated to figure out when that's ok and when it's a retreat or removal from the world in a less helpful way. Complicated. I don't have clear answers here.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:59:45

NYmomma

"In fact, I think it can be a disadvantage if I fully understand the book I'm writing. Then it's all unpacked already, you know?"

I agree--because then the book isn't overly prescriptive.

I just want to add that I love the characters of Rose & George especially because they're so unconventional. Rose doesn't care particularly about having a pack of friends, she doesn't go to university, she doesn't move out of her family home as soon as she can. She seems very connected to herself; she knows herself well, as does her brother. Actually, all of the characters know themselves well even if they can't communicate that knowledge to each other. I love that you've written different characters & that they don't aspire to be status quote; they're not wishing they could be "normal." I'd love my daughter, when she's much older, to read this book and see that everyone doesn't have to/want to conform. So thank you as a parent!

So nice to hear! Thanks so much. I'm really glad to hear it.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:58:57

mymuchness

I found the comment about sensitivity really interesting - I thought that Rose and Joseph particularly have this kind of empathy with others but EXTREME empathy.
Do you consider yourself to be a particularly empathic friend or do you see disadvantages in very close connections??

Extreme empathy, yes. I do think of myself as empathic and I value that but it can be tricky at times-- I can forget how I am feeling or tune out to get a break. Apparently I was pretty tuned into adults and others as a kid but I also daydreamed A LOT and I imagine it was also a way to get a little headspace to myself. Also of course sometimes I am totally empathically off and miss things completely.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 21:58:56

I read the book on my Kindle, by the way. It was one of the first books that I read on it, and it sold me on the idea. I read about the book somewhere, went straight to Amazon and downloaded it. The instantaneous gratification is fabulous (and I buy many many more books because of the temptation).

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:57:05

Mrsoverreaction

Very clever, BodyofEeyore! And yes, I wondered why Joseph's skill enabled him to make actual physical changes, whereas Rose's didn't. Is it because he worked so hard at it over the years? After all, he's clearly a physics whizz and very focused on his skill; was he trying to explore the possibilities and boundaries of his particular skill?

Yes, I think so-- that he knew something molecularily that Rose couldn't. So he did have a certain kind of amazing skill this way, and George sort of knew it and was mad that he wasn't sharing it.

Help, that hour went by in a heartbeat.

Aimee, are you happy to answer the few remaining questions? And then we'll let you get back to your glass of wine/supper/tea (what time is it for you in LA?)

Thank you for answering my question. Now you have answered it, I cant believe I missed it. I loved the way the book allowed me to empathise with Rose, in that there are certain feelings / emotions in people I feel/ sense which makes me uncomfortable. I can't always stop thinking about them, its almost like a sensory overload. Interestingly I liked the way my emotions conflicted in respect of Joseph. I felt consfused and frustrated that he shut himself of,f but at the same time envied the fact that he could find peace in escaping from world when it all got too much.

NYmomma Wed 02-Nov-11 21:56:21

"In fact, I think it can be a disadvantage if I fully understand the book I'm writing. Then it's all unpacked already, you know?"

I agree--because then the book isn't overly prescriptive.

I just want to add that I love the characters of Rose & George especially because they're so unconventional. Rose doesn't care particularly about having a pack of friends, she doesn't go to university, she doesn't move out of her family home as soon as she can. She seems very connected to herself; she knows herself well, as does her brother. Actually, all of the characters know themselves well even if they can't communicate that knowledge to each other. I love that you've written different characters & that they don't aspire to be status quote; they're not wishing they could be "normal." I'd love my daughter, when she's much older, to read this book and see that everyone doesn't have to/want to conform. So thank you as a parent!

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:56:19

southlondonlady

Great questions & answers so far! If Joseph had managed to get into college with George do you think things would have been different for him?

Thank you! Possibly-- I sort of imagine George being someone who would've checked on him in his dorm room so he couldn't totally isolate. But at some point George had to move on, so maybe it was inevitable and just would've been delayed.

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:55:26

TillyBookClub

What are you reading at the moment?

And are you working on another book?

Working away, and it looks like mostly short stories at the moment but I do have some little starts of what could be another novel. It takes me awhile to find a novel! And I really like writing stories, too.

Reading-- just read and reviewed Helen Oyeyemi's Mr. Fox-- so good! And am rereading Hans Christian Andersen for a fairy tale class I teach tomorrow. I love rereading those. The students are always shocked to discover how the real "Little Mermaid" ends.

LynnCSchreiber Wed 02-Nov-11 21:55:10

Olivia
ooh, good point. I am the master of procrastination.

mymuchness Wed 02-Nov-11 21:54:07

I found the comment about sensitivity really interesting - I thought that Rose and Joseph particularly have this kind of empathy with others but EXTREME empathy.
Do you consider yourself to be a particularly empathic friend or do you see disadvantages in very close connections??

Mrsoverreaction Wed 02-Nov-11 21:53:49

Very clever, BodyofEeyore! And yes, I wondered why Joseph's skill enabled him to make actual physical changes, whereas Rose's didn't. Is it because he worked so hard at it over the years? After all, he's clearly a physics whizz and very focused on his skill; was he trying to explore the possibilities and boundaries of his particular skill?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:53:23

BodyOfEeyore

It's certainly food for thought, MrsOverreaction. Perhaps that's an apt phrase, given the book's subject.

With regard to ebooks and Kindles, I am not interested in getting one. I love the physicality of a book. I guess that's why I go for CDs and not MP3s.

Aimee, why the chair? Why that chair? Why not another piece of furniture?

And, if her brother can turn into a chair, could Rose turn into food one day?

Good question! In a way, doesn't she? When she tastes the factory, isn't she kind of seeing in herself the facets she doesn't want to see? It's not turning into food, but it's seeing herself reflected in food....

Also I don't think she'd want to leave as much as he wanted to leave.

That chair-- I guess it goes back to it being this ordinary object. Kind of a way to pay tribute to his mother and also rebel. If he'd picked a chair made by her, it would've been total absorption into her, in a way. But this was an exit for him, albeit a kind of brutal one.

southlondonlady Wed 02-Nov-11 21:53:11

Great questions & answers so far! If Joseph had managed to get into college with George do you think things would have been different for him?

AimeeBender Wed 02-Nov-11 21:51:14

OliviaMumsnet

Thanks for answering my q's Aimee. smile

MmeLindor Perhaps the cards and plot planned on the wall is procrastination of kinds??

For those (like me) who are scared witless of the soupy unknown (that phrase gave me goosebumps btw)

My pleasure. Happy about the goosebumps. I think we are all (or most?) terrified of that soupy unknown but of course it is around us and part of our lives constantly! So writing, in a way, can be an exercise in exploring it. That's why I think if people want to write they should write, and publishing is a side dish.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now