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

(166 Posts)
TillyBookClub Wed 28-Sep-11 22:52:04

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 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.

KatharineClifton Wed 26-Oct-11 23:29:37

The RL really is ace! Read Moth Smoke recently and loved that too.

KatharineClifton Wed 26-Oct-11 23:58:38

RF, not RL.

sittinginthesun Thu 27-Oct-11 14:16:38

marking my place - I read this book last holiday, and loved it. It was one of those books that will stay with me, if you know what I mean.

RiffRaffeta Thu 27-Oct-11 19:47:08

OK. I have a question. I found the depiction of the mother/son relationship very interesting, especially in relation to the mother/daughter one. I also found the mother a very interesting character outside this, a mother that seemed, on many levels, to break the traditional stereotypes.

Is the author drawing on personal experiences in either the relationships the mother has with her children or in character?

TillyBookClub Thu 27-Oct-11 20:39:03

Enjoying the discussion - and also agree about wanting more emotions to be tasted. And I can't remember if when she tastes food she's made herself, does she taste all the sadness/happiness in her own self? I mean, does she surprise herself with her own emotions?

I must go back re-read a bit before next Weds

Keep the advance questions coming... you've got till Monday to pop them up here.

RiffRaffeta Thu 27-Oct-11 21:00:13

She doesn't make full meals for that reason, I think Tilly. Except at the end.

MmeLindor. Thu 27-Oct-11 22:40:46

I read the book some time ago. It was one of the most memorable books I have read, both in terms of the surreal storyline and the beautiful prose.

I would like to know if you have noticed a difference between the way that your novels are received in UK to the US, particularly in your native state. Are readers in some states or countries more willing to suspend logic and simply enjoy the unbelievable.

southlondonlady Fri 28-Oct-11 17:10:12

I enjoyed this book - its different and has stayed with me. I didn't understand why the dad didn't pick up earlier that his kids had "special skills" as it might have helped them if he had warned them that these abilities ran in the family.

Has anyone read Like Water for Chocolate? Its quite an old book but a slightly similar theme as in the main character transfers her own feelings into the food she cooks.

WhatsWrongWithYou Sat 29-Oct-11 23:48:34

This thread has proved quite timely for me as I started it while on holiday this week - but, reading about the chair and all I don't think I'll be finishing it.

I like the prose style and the fact it seems literate and intelligent, but quite early on was already feeling irked by the whole tasting-emotions conceit.

I was expecting more of a realistic examination of family issues - coming to terms with mental health problems, maybe (thought the mother might be bi-polar and the brother was obviously struggling in several ways), but I really don't need to be spending precious hours of my time reading someone's weirdly concocted but ultimately dull concept of some sort of alternative universe. Angela Carter it ain't.

Thanks for the heads-up.

TillyBookClub Mon 31-Oct-11 10:56:38

It's going to be a lively discussion night, I can tell..
I've sent Aimee your advance questions, but feel free to put more up, especially if you can't make it on the night.
See you Wednesday, looking forward to it...

Quejica Mon 31-Oct-11 11:25:55

Did the lack of speech marks irritate anyone else? I found I had to keep going back over sentences and sometimes couldn't tell if words were actually said out loud or just thoughts.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 31-Oct-11 11:29:52

Quejica - yes that did jar a bit. I wonder if it was deliberate to add to the dreamlike atmosphere? Aimee - can you help us with this?

RunforFun Mon 31-Oct-11 13:28:04

I was lucky to get a free copy of this. Thanks !

I really enjoyed the book, although like others have said i sometimes had to read then re-read the page to try and get it clear in my own mind what was happening. It was very well written and reminded me of time travellers wife which was another odd story I wouldnt normally turn to but was captivated by in the end.

My question... humm... what gave you the basic idea for this novel ? it just seems so off the wall and unusual I cannot comprehend where i would begin to make up a story like this.

gailforce1 Mon 31-Oct-11 21:14:25

Thank you for my free copy, however, I will not be passing it on as I think that I will go back and re-read after chat with Aimee.

Agree with Whatswrong I thought the Mother was bi polar and,initially, the brother was autistic/aspergic. But I really did'nt get the changing into the chair and a particular folding chair at that!

Looking forward to the chat so that I can be enlightened!

purpleturtletoise Mon 31-Oct-11 21:58:47

Did I forget to mention how annoying I found the lack of speech marks?!

It wasn't something I really considered, but the library book-group seemed a bit obsessed by the autism theory. I think they had diagnosed the whole family hmm.

Like RunForFun, it did put me in mind of Audrey Niffenegger, but I'm afraid I didn't think this was in the same league - not quite surreal enough for me.

KatharineClifton Mon 31-Oct-11 22:39:18

I did like the lack of speech marks. Made the book flow much more nicely I think. It really is a beautiful prose.

Anyone looking for something a little different/magical without going down the fantasy route should try Alice Hoffman. Fantastic books.

chickflit Tue 01-Nov-11 08:40:24

To be fair the autism thing was what stuck with me the most but I have a DS with ASD so it's never far from my mind. It's actually one of the things that made me connect with the brother more than Rose or any of the family, I actually could identify with him, the lack of eye contact, focusing on what's interesting at school and not bothering with subjects that are of no interest, these are all issues that feature in my life through my son. Even George and his need to twang an elastic band on his wrist, I could identify with that as DS has something along similar lines that he needs to do.

To an extent these issues helped me identify with the mother too and possibly her claustrophobic love because I find myself worrying constantly over my own DS his reactions, over people's reactions, is he happy, watching him constantly for any change in routine, trying to bring him out of himself and interact with the family, so I could see where she was coming from.

I did enjoy the book, it was very easy to read, there was just something that stopped me from really being drawn into the characters and immersed in them. It was almost as if I was a fly on the wall of the family's life.

MmeLindor. Tue 01-Nov-11 10:06:44

Is it a new thing not to use quotation marks for speech? It is the second book I have read recently not to use them. I admit it irritated me to begin with but I got used to it.

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Nov-11 12:48:55


Is it a new thing not to use quotation marks for speech?

Ooh could be.
I find my pedantry for punctuation has been fading with age and laziness and too much MNing often end sentences without full stops
And then just hit return
I do it in emails too

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 13:12:28

I also wish we could start discussing...because I feel like I missed something. Or, maybe, I just didn't get it? Is this stay-at-home mum brain, or was anyone else, um, confused?

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 13:13:28

I think this is a device Bender decides to use--omitting quotation marks. A good question to ask her, though.

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 14:32:25

Sorry--I missed the other threads before I posted my first one.

OK. So I did understand it: The brother becomes a chair. Right. So I was into the whole emotions-through-food thing--yes, I bought it--but no, I can't buy the brother-becoming-a-chair concept. That's beyond surreal. And I'm trying to uncover the deeper meaning behind a human being becoming objects. I'm trying.

I was griped by the novel, though. At first, I was wondering where it was all going. After the first section, I felt like the book took off. I loved Rose as a character. She develops throughout the book, and I love how the family noticeably changes. I also liked how Joseph was never given a title--like autistic. The scene in his bedroom was beyond creepy. It actually made me feel ill. I thought he had somehow inserted the chair into himself. I'm sorry--so gross--but I had to read & re-read & re-re-read in order to see what Rose saw.

I'd love to know how this book started for Bender. What idea was the seed for this novel? What was her jumping off point, and did the book turn out the way she had expected, or did the story & characters take over?

Looking forward to Thursday...

OliviaMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 01-Nov-11 17:33:22

NyMomma it's wednesday

KatharineClifton Tue 01-Nov-11 19:35:19

It's not OliviaMumsnet, it's definitely Tuesday. grin

NYmomma Tue 01-Nov-11 19:52:24

Thanks, OliviaMumsnet. I miss knowing what day it is, the date, month...year? I remember when I was organised & astute. Oh well. Looking forward to Wednesday.

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